DENVER — A steady dose of Dramamine would’ve been welcomed by those on the baseball diamond – and in attendance – May 16 at All-City Field in Denver.
Chatfield and Air Academy put each other through more ups and downs in an hour than you’d experience in a day-long journey out to Elitch Gardens.
In the end, it was the Kadets that wound up on top as Greg Volz laced a two-run single into centerfield, sending Air Academy into the Class 5A state championship game with a nerve-wracking 6-5, 8-inning semifinal victory over the resilient Chargers.
“You just had to try and keep your composure out there,” said Chatfield’s Casey Coy, who belted a 3-run home run in the sixth inning that saw the Chargers (19-6) go from trailing 3-0 to leading 4-3. “It seemed like every time one team got out in front, the other team came right back.”
That certainly was the case late, but early the game was dominated by pitching. Chatfield’s Taylor Rogers and Air Academy’s Dexter Price zipped through the first five innings with little effort. Rogers, though, did surrender a leadoff home run in the first inning and gave up two more runs in the third as Chatfield trailed 3-0 heading into the final two innings.
Price was perfect as he carried a no-hitter into the fifth, before Rogers broke up the effort with a one-out single. Price, though, finished with eight strikeouts, no walks and allowed seven hits.
Coy’s blast knotted the score and awoken the once dormant Chatfield bats.
On the very next pitch from Price, catcher Jake Davis sent a ball sailing over the wall to give Chatfield its first lead of the day.
“Our confidence was pretty high after that,” Coy said. “Taylor had been pitching great all day and we thought once we got the lead the game was ours.”
But, Air Academy, which pushed eventual champion Rocky Mountain to an elimination game on May 17 before falling in the nightcap, answered Chatfield’s rally with a game-tying run in the bottom half of the inning.
Coy nearly drove in another run in the seventh, but his liner was snagged by the 6-foot-7 Price.
In the extra frame, Chatfield scored a run on a single by Rogers (who struck out nine, walked two and gave up seven hits) before Air Academy, again, struck back. This time the blow was a game-ender as Volz’s single not only plated the tying run, but the winning run as well.
“It was a great baseball game,” Chatfield coach Mike Yansak said. “I’m really proud of our kids. They didn’t give up, even with Price on his game in the first five innings. It looked like things were going to swing our way after we hit those two homers.
"Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out.”
The young Chargers (they fielded just a pair of senior starter) flew under the radar for most of the season, despite contending for the deeply-talented Jefferson County League title. Still, not many outside of the Chargers’ clubhouse expected the team to make it to state, let alone the semifinals.
“We would’ve liked to have gotten more respect, but I guess that’s what happens,” said Coy, a senior along with Davis. “It was a lot of fun being a part of this team and being able to help lead Chatfield back to the state tournament.”
Chatfield 000 004 01 — 5 7 1
Air Academy 102 001 02 — 6 7 2
Chatfield: Shannon cf 4-1-2-0, Coy 2b 3-1-1-3, Davis c 3-2-1-1, Crubaugh 3b 3-0-0-0, Camporeale lf 4-0-0-0, Rogers p 4-0-2-1, Putka cr 0-0-0-0, Ahrens dh 3-0-0-0, Joyce ph 1-0-0-0, Mills 1b 3-0-0-0, Watson ss 3-1-1-0, Fritze rf 0-0-0-0. Totals: 31-5-7-5.
Air Academy: Terry ss 3-2-1-1, Yeager 2b 4-0-1-1, Burton cf 4-1-0-1, Price p 4-0-2-0, Doyle cr 0-2-0-0, Moore c 3-0-1-1, Brown 1b 4-0-0-0, Volz rf 4-0-1-2, Fenlason lf 2-1-0-0, Bartlett 3b 3-0-1-0. Totals: 31-6-7-6.
E — Bartlett, Terry, Crubaugh. LOB — Chatfield 5, Air Academy 5. DP — Air Academy, SB — Shannon. SAC — Crubaugh. 2B — Shannon, Price 2. HR — Terry, solo in first; Coy, two on in sixth; Davis, solo in sixth. Batteries — Rogers and Davis; Price and Moore. W — Price (9-0). L — Davis (6-2). HBP — Coy (by Price); Davis (by Price). WP — Rogers, Price. T — 1:56.