The first inning pretty well sealed Cheyenne Mountain’s fate Friday.
The double-elimination format, however, will give it the chance to atone.
The Indians gave up three runs to Holy Family in the opening frame — allowing the first two to reach on a walk and hit-by-pitch — then failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the bottom half of the inning.
The Tigers rolled from there, winning 13-4 in the opening round of the 4A state tournament at UCCS’ Mountain Lion Park.
“That was huge,” said Cheyenne Mountain starting pitcher Michael Ellis, who gave up seven runs in three-plus innings while going 2 for 3 with an RBI and a walk. “The first inning killed us.”
The other side, naturally, felt the benefit of that opening sequence of events.
“Huge confidence boost, honestly,” said Holy Family’s Colin Kringlen, a Colorado School of Mines-bound pitcher who hit a long home run to right and drove in four runs. “That’s gigantic any time you can do that. Bases loaded, nobody out and get out of that? Gigantic.”
Holy Family benefited from a bloop single behind third base in that first inning, and later in the game by dumping one in a perfect spot down the right-field line. Cheyenne Mountain also contributed with a pair of errors, a run-scoring wild pitch and misplays defensively that contributed to more bases and runs. Indians pitchers hit three batters and walked three, and all six came around to score.
The hits in the game were even at eight apiece, but sloppy play on the side of Cheyenne Mountain made up the huge difference on the scoreboard.
“Defensively, that’s kind of what we hang our hat on,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Mark Swope said. “We work so hard on defense in practice. We weren’t in spots on cutoff relay. We didn’t have a toughness about us to put a body in front of baseballs today. We were out of position. We didn’t get good leads.
"I could go on and on.”
But this doesn’t mean Cheyenne Mountain can’t continue to go on.
The third-seeded Indians (21-5) will play at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Rocky Mountain Vibes’ UCHealth Park. They would need a win there, and another in a noon game to advance to next weekend, where they would need four consecutive wins to take the title.
“We have to win tomorrow,” Ellis said. “And that’s all that matters.”