Eagles' bid for state title comes up short

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By Dan Johnson

DENVER - Judging by the stat line, Arapahoe’s Tayler Davis didn’t have much business being in the game – let alone earning the win – against Dakota Ridge.

Yet that’s just what the lanky left-hander did in the teams’ May 10 Class 5A state baseball elimination game at All-City Field.

Despite walking nine – yes, nine – batters and registering just one strikeout, Davis managed to skirt trouble most of the afternoon, as the Eagles stranded nine baserunners and were held to just six hits.

Arapahoe, meanwhile, gave Dakota Ridge a taste of its own medicine, hitting five home runs to jump out to a 7-0 lead, eventually advancing to the May 16 semifinal round with an 8-5 victory.

“We’re disappointed,” said Dakota Ridge coach Jeff Legault, whose team started the tourney with a 10-3 victory over Grand Junction before losing to rival Chatfield 11-6. “I told the team before the game that the state tournament typically comes down to teams that are on hot streaks.

“Unfortunately for us, we hit our cold streak at the wrong time.”

The Warriors jumped on Dakota Ridge starter David Whitaker early. Real early. Leadoff batter Troy Brewer belted the second pitch of the game over the fence to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

In the third, third baseman Dave Holland slugged a two-run shot – his first of two on the afternoon – to put the Warriors up 3-0. Justin Byrd’s three-run homer in the fourth chased Whitaker from the game and cushioned Arapahoe’s lead to 6-0.

Trailing 8-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Dakota Ridge’s offense finally came to life as they scored four runs on three hits. Dave McCulley hit an RBI double and Drew Phelan added a two-run double in the inning.

The Eagles finally chased Davis from the game after leading off the seventh with a single. But, the last-inning rally was squashed when Charlie Henderson induced a game-ending double play.

“Not to take anything away from (Davis), he battled all game. But, a guy like that, we normally hit him all over the place,” Legault said. “It seemed like every ball we hit hard (May 10) it was right at someone. Funky things like that happen.”

While the loss was crushing, Legault took time to reflect on the season’s highlights.

“We won a league title in a very difficult Jeffco League,” Legault said. “We finished the year with 20 wins. Not a lot of teams get to 20 wins in a season. Yeah we’re going home earlier than we expected, but we still accomplished a lot of great things.”

Arapahoe 8, Dakota Ridge 5

Arapahoe 120 311 0 — 8 10 0

Dakota Ridge 000 014 0 — 5 6 0

Arapahoe: Brewer ss 3-2-2-1, Sudduth dh 4-1-2-0, Guymon lf 3-0-1-0, Byrd c 4-1-1-3, Overton 1b 4-1-1-1, Davidson rf 2-0-0-0, Kible 2b 3-1-1-0, Holland 3b 4-2-2-3, Soehngen cf 4-0-0-0, Davis p 0-0-0-0, Henderson p 0-0-0-0. Totals: 31-8-10-8.

Dakota Ridge: Phelan cf 3-1-1-2, Melton 2b 2-1-0-0, Cain 3b 3-0-0-0, Ochoa c 2-0-1-1, McCulley ph 1-0-1-1, Whitaker p-rf 4-0-1-1, VanderVelde dh 3-0-1-0, Rosco rf 3-1-0-0, Fern ph 1-0-1-0, Ellison ss-p 1-1-0-0, Espinoza pr 0-0-0-0, Pritchett lf 2-1-0-0, Brown 1b 0-0-0-0. Totals: 25-5-6-5.

E — None. LOB — Arapahoe 10, Dakota Ridge 8. SB — Meltob 3, Cain, Whitaker, Phelan.

2B — Phelan, McCulley, Guymon, Brewer. HR — Brewer, solo in first; Holland, one on in second; Byrd, two on in fourth; Overton, solo in sixth.

Batteries — Davis, Henderson (7) and Byrd; Whitaker, Ellison (4) and Ochoa. W — Davis. L — Whitaker.

Chatfield 15, Dakota Ridge 6

After beating the Chargers in the regular season with a walk-off homer, the Eagles watched a chance at a playoff victory walk away.

Dakota Ridge pitchers issued 11 walks – one intentional – and couldn’t silence the Chargers even when they threw strikes as a glorious start faded to black.

A five-run lead quickly became an 11-5 deficit as the wheels fell off in the rivalry rematch.

"I think the walks killed us," Eagles skipper Jeff Legault said. "You give up 10 walks to a team that can hit the ball like that and it takes our defense out of the game."

The Eagles got run-scoring hits by Eric Cain and David Whitaker before starting pitcher Alex Ellison hit a base-clearing double to the wall in left field to chase Chatfield starter Anthony Urbano.

But Ellison would be chased in the second inning as the Chargers responded — and then some.

Whitaker finished with three hits, and Cain and center fielder Phelan had two each.

Dakota Ridge 500 100 0 — 6 10 1

Chatfield 533 022 x — 15 15 0

Dakota Ridge: Phelan cf 4-1-2-0, Melton ss-rp-2b 3-0-0-0, Cain 3b 4-2-2-1, Ochoa c 3-0-1-1, McCulley cr 0-1-0-0, Whitaker 1b 3-1-3-1, Porter 2b 0-0-0-0, Brown dh-rp 3-0-1-0, VanderVelde ph 1-0-0-0, Rosco rf 3-1-0-0, Ellison sp-ss 4-0-1-3, Espinoza cr 0-0-0-0, Pritchett lf 3-0-0-0. Totals: 31-6-10-6.

Chatfield: Shannon cf 5-3-3-3, Coy 2b-rp 3-2-3-2, Putka cr 0-1-0-0, Duley cr 0-1-0-0, Davis c 3-2-2-1, Ty. Rogers cr 0-1-0-0, Crubaugh 3b 3-1-1-1, Camporeale lf 3-1-1-1, Urbano sp 0-0-0-0, Joyce 2b 0-0-0-0, Ta. Rogers dh 4-1-1-2, Neville pr 0-0-0-0, Watson ss 4-1-2-1, Mills 1b 4-0-1-2, Moisey pr 0-0-0-0, Fritze rf 4-1-1-0. Totals: 33-15-15-13.

E – Ellison (catch). LOB – Dakota Ridge 8, Chatfield 11. SB – Melton, Whitaker; Davis 2, Putka. IBB – Ta. Rogers. SAC – Crubaugh. 2B – Cain 2, Ellison, Phelan, Ochoa; Shannon, Camporeale, Watson, Davis. 3B – Coy. HR – Shannon (solo in second; one on in third), Ta. Rogers (one on in second), Coy (solo in second).

Batteries – Ellison, Melton (2), Brown (3) and Ochoa; Urbano, Coy (1) and Davis. W – Coy (7-2). L – Ellison (6-1). WP – Ellison, Melton. T – 2:41.

Dakota Ridge 10, Grand Junction 3

After previous use of an ineligible player made Legacy a late scratch from the state tournament, the Eagles didn’t get much time to prepare for replacement Grand Junction.

It didn’t matter.

Phelan led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer and the Eagles never looked back, building a 6-0 lead en route to a comfortable victory. Phelan had three hits and needed a triple to complete the cycle.

Andrew Melton, J.C. Ochoa and Whitaker each had two hits, and Ochoa drove in three runs with a double in the second as the Eagles blew the game open. Third baseman Cain went 1-for-2 at the plate and scored twice, while pinch hitter McCulley was 1-for-1 with an RBI single.

J.J. Jaramillo went the distance on the mound for Dakota Ridge, scattering seven hits over seven innings with four strikeouts.

Grand Junction 000 102 0 — 3 7 3

Dakota Ridge 150 013 x — 10 12 0

Grand Junction: Kelly 2b 3-0-1-0, Arnold rf 3-0-1-0, Higgins cf 4-0-0-0, Koepsell c 2-0-0-0, Baldwin 1b 3-1-0-0, Stanford sp 0-0-0-0, Wimar rp 0-0-0-0, Berk dh 3-2-2-2, Quigley lf 3-0-1-1, Bergman ss 3-0-0-0, Gastineau 3b 3-0-2-0. Totals 27-3-7-3.

Dakota Ridge: Phelan cf 4-3-3-2, Melton 2b-ss 4-2-2-2, Cain 3b 2-2-1-0, Ochoa c 4-0-2-3, McCulley cr-ph 1-0-1-1, McCulley cr-ph 1-0-1-1, Whitaker 1b 4-0-2-0, Jaramillo p 0-0-0-0, Brown dh 3-1-0-0, VanderVelde ph 0-0-0-1, Rosco rf 3-1-0-0, Ellison ss 2-0-1-0, Porter 2b 2-0-0-0, Pritchett lf 3-1-0-0. Totals 32-10-12-9.

E – Gastineau (catch), Bergman (catch), Baldwin (catch). LOB – Grand Junction 7, Dakota Ridge 8. SB – Melton, Rosco, Phelan. SAC – Arnold; VanderVelde. 2B – Berk; Phelan, Melton, Ochoa. HR – Berk (one on in sixth); Phelan (solo in first).

Batteries – Stanford, Wimar (2) and Koepsell; Jaramillo and Ochoa. W – Jaramillo (6-0). L – Stanford (1-1). HBP – Kelly (by Jaramillo in seventh). T – 1:55.

Staff Writer Brian Forbes contributed to this report.