By Will Petersen
For the Courier
GREENWOOD VILLAGE — There was no grace period. No easing into anything.
The Dakota Ridge baseball team kicked off its season against No. 1 ranked and defending state champion Cherry Creek and fell 12-2 in five innings on March 16 at Cherry Creek High School.
The fifth-ranked Eagles, limited to just two days of outdoor practice because of snow on their field, came in to the game without as much as a scrimmage underneath their belt.
“We have a measuring stick now and know where we got to go. When you play the No. 1 team in the state it will show you what you need to fix,” Dakota Ridge head coach Jeff Legault said.
The Eagles had a tough day in the field committing four errors, including one in the fifth inning that extended Cherry Creek’s at-bat. The next hitter, Creek’s Ethan Kang, hit a walk-off single that extended the lead to 10 and ended the game because of the mercy rule.
“We’ve just got to take ground ball after ground ball. We just need repetition to clean it up,” Dakota Ridge’s Bryce Carson said of the errors.
The Eagles made the game interesting in the fourth by putting a pair of runs on the board to cut the Cherry Creek’s four-run lead to 4-2.
Dakota Ridge’s Jake Ekman got things going with a base-hit to right field. Carson followed him with a hit to left. Nick Carland then sacrificed the two runners over to second and third base. Ekman eventually scored on a passed ball and Kaylor Greenstreet blooped a single to center field to score Carson.
“Our guys showed some fight. They came back, shortened up their swings a bit and made it a game there for awhile,” Legault said.
Cherry Creek responded immediately, though, in the bottom of the fourth, tacking on five more runs to extend the lead to 9-2 and chase Dakota Ridge’s starting pitcher Greenstreet from the game.
The Bruins’ starting pitcher Griffin Jax shut down the Eagles in order in the fifth before Cherry Creek scored three more runs to end it in the bottom of the inning. Dakota Ridge managed just four hits off Jax.
“He’s probably the fastest pitcher in the state. To have him come out and throw (around) 93 (miles per hour) yeah we’re going to struggle a bit,” Ekman said.
Cherry Creek scored in every inning and finished with 10 hits and no errors. The Bruins are considered a favorite to repeat for a 5A state championship.
“This game can teach us what to build off of for the next couple of games. It was a good tool to see where we are at,” Carson said.