A day after falling victim to a walk-off home run to rival Dakota Ridge, Chatfield nearly was struck by lightning a second time.
Thankfully for the Chargers, the wind was working in their favor April 19.
Down 6-3 with two runners on and one out, Columbine’s Curtis Cunningham put a charge into a Casey Coy fastball, driving the ball deep to right-centerfield.
On a normal day, the ball might have gone over the fence, tying the game. The wind, however, had other ideas and grabbed a hold of the ball and held it up in the air, giving centerfielder Mark Shannon plenty of time to settle underneath it to record the pivotal out.
Coy finished out the four-hit complete game one batter later, striking out Danny Spond, giving the Chargers a much-needed Class 5A Jefferson County League win.
“It meant everything,” said Coy, who struck out six and had just two of the four hits allowed leave the infield. “We knew how big this game was, not just because of the rivalry, but because of how close everyone is in the (league) standings.
“We want to host an opening-round playoff game, and we still have a chance to do that.”
The win bumped Chatfield’s record to 6-3 in Jeffco, 13-4 overall. They currently sit in second place behind Dakota Ridge, which has already wrapped up the league title.
The April 12 loss puts pressure on Columbine, the 2006 5A state champion and a state semifinalist a year ago, as they enter the final week of the season.
The Rebels are 5-3 in Jeffco (9-8 overall) but face tough competition in Green Mountain on April 21 and Dakota Ridge on April 23. Two more losses could potentially knock the Rebels out of playoff contention.
“We win this game and we’re second in the league. Now we’ve got to fight to survive,” Columbine coach Chuck Gillman said. “We’ve got to better, quickly or else it’s going to be a short season for us.”
Aside from some crafty bunts and a couple of hard shots, Columbine had a hard time getting a handle on Coy. The Rebels went down in order four times and only had 10 batters reach base.
“I got a lot of ground ball outs, which really helped,” Coy said. “I was mixing my speeds well and my location was pretty good.”
Gillman said the Rebels’ lack of aggressiveness at the plate hurt them.
“Casey was always working ahead in the count,” Gillman said. “I’m not sure why we weren’t more aggressive early in our at-bats.”
Columbine briefly took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth, scoring the tying run on a throwing error by Coy and the go-ahead run on squeeze bunt by Danny Spond – his second of the game.
Chatfield fired back with four runs in the bottom half to reclaim the lead. The big hit came from Coy’s battery mate, catcher Jake Davis, who laced a two-run double to left. The hit chased Columbine starter Kyler Brady from the game.
“Kyler and I know each other pretty well,” Davis said. “It was a battle up there. I was just looking for something to hit and to put the ball in play.”
Chatfield scored two runs in the second to take a 2-1 lead. Kevin Crubaugh drove in both runs with a double to left. He finished with two hits on the day.
Columbine scored its first run on a squeeze bunt by Spond, scoring Jeff Cicchinelli, who reached on a one-out infield single, then stole second and third base to get into scoring position.