Young arms and quiet bats put Dakota Ridge in an unusual spot.
Hosting its wooden bat tournament for the 11th season under coach Jeff Legault, the Eagles failed to reach the final for the first time in 10 years after suffering narrow losses to Ralston Valley and Green Mountain.
Dakota Ridge notched victories over Columbine’s lower-level squad and Centaurus, but the defeats kept the Eagles out of the semifinals and saw them wrap up play June 29 with an 11-3 victory over Silver Creek.
“We didn’t hit as well as we should have,” Legault said
Coming off a league doubleheader prior to the tournament, which Legault admitted was more important than the tournament in terms of victories, the Eagles had to dip deep into their nine-man pitching staff.
The pivotal game was a 4-3 loss to Green Mountain where the Eagles totaled six hits, had a runner thrown out at home and struck out 12 times.
Third baseman Alex Ellison nearly sparked a seventh-inning rally when he led off with a home run to center field. But the Eagles’ next three batters struck out to end the game.
The Eagles didn’t get to pitch Ellison or fellow ace Joey Jaramillo in the first three games. Jaramillo took the mound and was dominant in Saturday’s 8-0 victory over Centaurus.
Jaramillo struck out the first four batters, retired the first 12 and didn’t allow a hit until the top of the fifth inning.
Number 9 hitter, Ben Espinoza, won the game with a walk-off, three-run homer to left field in the bottom of the sixth. The tournament was played with an eight-run mercy rule.
The Eagles had to go to the well in their first game as they needed two runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn a 5-3 victory over the young Rebels.
The Eagles led 3-0 before the Rebels tied the game in the top of the sixth with two runs off reliever Keaton Greenstreet, who took over with no outs and bases loaded. Parker Clough drew a walk to score a run and Matt Trujillo knocked in a run despite hitting into a double play.
Greenstreet struck out Nate Cole to end the sixth and got leadoff hitter Danny Prien to hit into a game-ending double play in the seventh.
The Rebels lost perhaps the toughest game of the tournament to Green Mountain. The Rebels were being no-hit until the seventh inning when they scored four runs to take a 4-1 lead.
But the Rams answered in the bottom of the inning by scoring four runs before Columbine could record an out to win 5-4.