Coach Jim Dollaghan's Arapahoe Warriors played baseball on a sunny May 26 day at All-City Stadium in Denver.
Arapahoe was playing Mountain Range in the Class 5A double-elimination state baseball tournament.
The Warriors, who surprised top-seeded and previously unbeaten Mountain Vista in the first game of the state tourney, advanced to a game between unbeaten tournament teams on May 22, but lost 7-4 to Heritage.
That sent Arapahoe into the loser's bracket and into an elimination contest against Mountain Range, and the Warriors saw their season come to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Mustangs
“We came out those first two games and looked like world beaters,” said Dollaghan. “You hope you get hot and stay hot through the tournament. Only one team came out with a state championship trophy, but these kids wanted to put Arapahoe back on the map — and they did.
“They turned some heads. They proved that we could be there. They were a scrappy bunch of kids. They really wanted to play baseball in late May. Every team wants to win and go out and be state champions, but you have to take it pitch by pitch, win by win.”
Arapahoe, which finished with a 16-9 record, lost a first-place game to Cherry Creek on April 14, which started a slump of only one win in four contests. However, the Warriors got hot at the right time and took an eight-game winning streak into the May 22 game against Heritage.
“We have a lot to be proud of because we kind of had a little tailspin,” said Dollaghan. “We had a chance to take first place in our league in April and we had never been in that spot.. It was an important step for us because it put us in position to have this pressure late in the season.”
Arapahoe managed only one hit off Mountain Range senior right-hander Brayden Brooks. Drew Hayes bounced a single up the middle in the fifth inning for the Warriors' only hit of the game.
A sacrifice fly by Demarques Ortega in the sixth inning produced the only run of the game for the Mustangs. Ortega, ironically, was thrown out at home plate by Arapahoe right-fielder Ryan Nourse in the third inning as he tried to score the game's first run from second base.
Still, Arapahoe had a chance to tie or maybe win the game with only one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh. After Cade Segura smashed a line drive down the left field line that landed just foul, Brooks retired the last two batters to end the game.
"You give them lot of credit,” said Dollaghan. “Their shortstop (Angelo Domenico) made some unbelievable plays to end innings. I thought our power might come but we just missed by two or three inches. It's tough. We just didn't get a timely hit."
Arapahoe had nine seniors on its 18-player state tournament roster.
The Warriors' top two hitters for the season, Brandon Dryer and Preston Scheidt, were seniors. Dryer hit .474 and Scheidt .350. Grant DeClue, who had eight pitching wins, was also a senior. Matt Wilson (.310) and Cooper Marks (.300) head the underclassmen who will return along with pitchers Steve Ingalls and Spye Turneaugh.
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