Baseball in May is as unpredictable as the weather – one minute it’s sunny and beautiful, the next you’re soaked, frozen and bewildered.
Such was the case for the Columbine Rebels, who walked off their home field heartbroken, many crying, because their spectacular 19-2 season end with a shocking loss to the Chaparral Wolverines 12-3 on May 10 in the District 3 finals.
Principal Frank DeAngelis watched the last game of his 35-year career at Columbine unfold from the dugout of his namesake field. Shocked and dismayed, he lovingly hugged nearly every player after they shook hands with their opponent. Columbine athletic director Scott Christy held back tears as he said, “I love you guys. I mean it! It has been a real honor to watch you guys play for the past four years.”
Through seven stormy innings, everyone hoped the boys in white would turn things around. But they didn’t.
It was shocking; especially after Columbine had its way with the Legacy Lightening not more than two hours earlier, wracking up a score of 10-0 in the district opener before the game’s mercy rule was enacted in the sixth inning.
In the game against Legacy, senior shortstop Austin Anderson stole bases and hit home runs; in game two Anderson’s bat was muted.
The crazy thing is, as lopsided as the final score was, nobody believed for a second that it would end as it did - with a bases-loaded, pop-fly by senior Tyler Mohr at bat.
In fact, Chaparral senior pitcher Brad Brown had to sort through seven batters, including Anderson, who brought in Columbine’s final run with a single, right before giving up the hit to Mohr which was caught by Chaparral senior left-fielder Paul Green.
Entering the district tournament, Brown had a respectable season with two wins, 43 strikeouts and a 4.15 ERA. On paper, Columbine’s more seasoned senior pitcher Isaiah Gonzales-Montoya, who had six wins, 34 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.33, looked like the stronger pitcher, but Gonzales-Montoya never found his stride.
Everyone in attendance let out a collective gasp when he gave up a grand slam in the seventh to junior Addison Kaasch, allowing Chaparral to increase a deficit from which Columbine never recovered from.
Gonzalez-Montoya had played it safe with Kaasch all game, walking him each time he was at bat, but Kaasch connected with the ball just right. It’s a moment every baseball player dreams about – getting the game-changing grand slam against a formidable opponent. Sadly for Gonzalez-Montoya, it’s every pitcher’s worst nightmare.
When asked if he was worried that if at any point Columbine got under the ball it would make a comeback, Chaparral head coach, Tony Persinchina said, “I was worried up until the last out. There wasn’t a moment in the game when my stomach wasn’t churning.”
When asked if he thought the boys buckled under the pressure to perform for DeAngelis, Columbine head coach Chuck Gillman said, “No, they were pretty confident going into the game. This whole game is about momentum and we just couldn’t get over the hump.”