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Air Academy's Kimbrow takes suspense out of win over Cheyenne Mountain
Kadets move into finals vs. Broomfield
LAKEWOOD - Kevin Kimbrow is a suspense killer.
The soft-spoken Air Academy third baseman stomped on the throat of yet another opponent Friday, pounding a two-out, two-run home run to center field to pad the Kadets' lead as they eliminated Cheyenne Mountain 6-2 in the final four of the 4A baseball state tournament.
It was Kimbrow’s third blast of the tournament and second seventh-inning game-changer, coming just after he helped bury D’Evelyn with a grand slam that extended a one-run lead into a comfortable victory.
Kimbrow went 2-for-4 Friday and knocked in four runs as Air Academy advanced to Saturday’s championship game against Broomfield.
“And this is a guy who doesn’t think he’s a baseball player,” Kadets coach Bernie Moncallo said. “He’s the quarterback on the football team and he’s getting some looks from Wyoming and North Dakota to be either a linebacker or a quarterback.
“I think he could do both.”
Admittedly, this run – dating back to a home run in the district final against Discovery Canyon – has Kimbrow reconsidering his views.
“Football has always been my thing,” the junior said. “I don’t know what to do now.”
His plans for the immediate future are set. The Kadets play Broomfield at 10 a.m. Saturday at All City Field in Denver. Air Academy (22-3) must win that first game to force a winner-take-all final at 2 p.m.
“If they go in slacking, we’ll be ready in the first game,” Kimbrow said.
Two victories would complete a historic week for Air Academy that has included three state championships titles – boys’ swimming, girls’ soccer and girls’ lacrosse.
While the Kadets are making a habit of going home winners, Cheyenne Mountain (19-6) had to sample the other role for a change after winning 4A baseball titles in 2009 and 2011.
The Indians found themselves trailing 2-0 after one inning and by four runs after the fourth. They scratched for two runs, but saw a potential big inning derailed by a controversial call at first in the fifth inning.
Catcher Jerry Lacayo was initially called safe after leaving the baseline to avoid a tag at first base. Moncallo argued and the umpires met, sticking with the call. Moncallo argued again and the call was overturned, taking Cheyenne Mountain from a bases-loaded, one-out situation to runners at second and third with two outs.
It made matters worse for the Indians that the Nos. 2 and 3 hitters were due up and that, right or wrong, the call wasn’t made sooner before the momentum of the inning was zapped.
But even after that, the Indians were looking at just a two-run deficit in the seventh with the top of the order due up when Kimbrow changed everything.
“That obviously took the air right out of our sails,” said Cheyenne Mountain coach Mark Swope, who must say goodbye to a large group of seniors that includes standouts Bret Helton, Lacayo, Jack Stimple and Scott Bowen. “We had contained them since the third inning; I knew I was going to get to the meat of my lineup … so that hurt.”
The Indians had just six hits against Air Academy starter Kevin Giordano, who improved to 9-0 with the complete game and kept the team’s other pitchers fresh for Saturday. The Kadets will start Kevin Megyeri in the first game against Broomfield and have Billy Shatraw available for a possible second game.
Of course, they’ll also have Kimbrow in the lineup ready to crush the spirit of yet another foe. Though, he said, it would be tough to top the feeling he had Friday afternoon.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “No one else I’d rather beat than Cheyenne Mountain.”