Mustangs win back-to-back championships

Ponderosa routs Cheyenne Mountain

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It was a start that led to long discussions but the Ponderosa baseball team finished strong.

The Mustangs defeated Cheyenne Mountain, 11-1, on June 4 at the Vibes stadium in Colorado Springs to capture their second consecutive Class 4A state baseball championship.

Pondorosa, which will move up to Class 5A next season, was undefeated in the double elimination format, finishing the season 23-7, battling back from a 1-3 start to the season.

“We trusted our kids,” said Coach Bob Maloney. ‘We came out of Arizona 1-3 and we got beat up pretty good. The kids stepped up. They just got better each day and you could see it this week. We swung it, we threw it and played good defense. The kids were awesome.”

Maloney said he was in awe when the team one state last year, giving credit to the athletes and their families in creating a winning atmosphere.

Ponderosa’s starting pitcher Gabe Jacobs, who just finished his junior year, struggled at times to express his feelings for winning another state title but he did recall the start of the season.

“We sat in a room for three hours with our whole team just talking about what we needed to do mentally the rest of the year,” he said.“It obviously paid off. We went into this (title) game and wanted to dominate. We practiced hard all week.”

Jacobs gave up two hits to the first two batters he faced then shut down the Red-tailed Hawks the rest of the game, which was reduced to five innings due to the mercy rule.

Jacobs retired 14 of the next 16 batters he faced after the yielding the two opening singles and unearned run. The only runners that reached base came on a batter hit with a pitch and a walk.

Jacobs struck out three and walked one in raising his season record to 11-2

“Gabe Jacobs has been awesome,” Maloney said. “He gave us a chance to win in every game he played.”

After Cheyenne came out scoring, Ponderosa broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the third and then sealed the victory with a seven-run fourth inning where 13 batters came up to the plate, giving the Mustangs four hits to go along with five walks.

Catcher Derek Lukes, who praised the performance of his best friend Jacobs on the mound, had two hits and drove in a run. In five state tournament games, Lukes went had nine RBIs, with nine hits in 16 at bats.

Parker Dennis also had two hits and three RBIs. Carson Conrad drove home three runners with a bases loaded double in the fourth inning.

Next year, Maloney said it will be an adjustment for the team to move up to 5A play. However, already playing many of the 5A teams in the Continental League, Maloney is confident the team is ready for the challenge.

Class 5A play across the region

In the Class 5A tournament held at All City Stadium in Denver, Chaparral’s rally fell short as Legacy notched a 4-3 victory on June 3 in a Final Four semi-final game.

Chaparral hit the ball well in the first six innings but at least five of those drives were hit directly to outfielders and the Wolverines trailed 4-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning.

James Harbison led off the seventh-inning rally with a double which was followed by doubles from Cole Jenkins and Brody Sprinkle whose two-bagger drove in two runs. Following an out, Tanner Donner and James Conrad delivered singles and Conrad’s hit drove in the third run of the inning.

That left the Wolverines with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with one out. However, a ground out and a pop-up ended the threat and the season for Chaparral.

“We fought to the end,” said Chaparral Coach Alan DiGiosio. “We were down four and how many kids would have turned in? We fought a base runner at a time. For sure we needed another hit.”

Chaparral outhit Legacy 8-7 with Harbison getting two hits to pace the Wolverines, which ended the season with a 22-7 record.

“Well, we won the league (Continental) championship and regional championship and we kind of came out of no where,” DiGiosio said. “Nobody expected much out of us but we accomplished a lot of great things. We made a lot of great strides. If you ask around baseball circles and they talk about how our program we will good down the road. We’re great right now.”

Class 3A in the region

Lutheran came out of the Class 3A losers bracket in Greeley to make it to the Final Four but lost to eventual state champion Eaton, 5-2, on June 4 in a semi-final contest.

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