Rocky Mountain goes 1-1 on first day of state baseball tournament

Rocky Mountain goes 1-1 on first day of state baseball tournament

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Rocky Mountain goes 1-1 on first day of state baseball tournament

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DENVER

Rocky Mountain struggled Friday with something it wasn’t used to — quiet bats.

Matched against Grandview in the second round of the Class 5A state baseball tournament at All City Stadium, the top-seeded Lobos stranded too many runners on base, falling 9-2.

Rocky, which beat Chatfield 2-0 in the first game Friday, will play the winner of No. 3 Legend and No. 2 Chaparral on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at All-City Field in Denver.

Opportunities were readily available for Rocky (19-3), stranding 12 runners on base, but nearly each time it strung a couple of hits together, Grandview pitcher Spencer Johnson would shut the rally down.

Johnson, a senior, allowed six hits, but held Rocky scoreless in five inning while striking out four. He said at no point Friday did the Wolves (19-3) feel intimidated by the No. 1 team in the state.

“I’d let one or two runners on, then I’d get it in my mind that I wasn’t going to let these runners advance,” Johnson said. “Basically, I just put that in my mind and made sure it happened.

“I knew we had this game. I’m not trying to sound cocky or anything, but our team just works so well together.”

That was especially the case on offense.

The Wolves rode their momentum of dominating Cherry Creek 7-4 in the opening round earlier Friday with lively bats.

Grandview hit three home runs against Rocky, including back-to-back in the first inning from Reece Weber and Rory Stewart off starter Carl Stajduhar. The Lobos scored their two runs in the top of the sixth, but Grandview immediately responded with a three-run shot from Josh Huntley in bottom half of the inning.

Watching his team swing at too many pitches out of the strike zone was disappointing, said Rocky coach Scott Bullock. After scoring 54 runs in their previous four contests heading into the state tournament, the Lobos scored four between its two games Friday.

It might have been an inevitable cooling off period from a hot streak, but because of it Rocky finds itself facing elimination should it lose another game in the state tournament.

“The beauty of the state tournament is that we get to come back. We lost today, but it’s still out there for us and we have to respond (Saturday),” Bullock said. “Our backs are against the wall. Our season is riding on (Saturday’s) game and every game the rest of the way. We’re going to see what type of kids we have and how we respond.”

On Rocky’s opener, junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Stevens threw a complete game, striking out five and allowing three hits. He credited the defense for helping him get out of jams with runners in scoring position.

“My arm felt great and the defense was fantastic,” Stevens said. “Even though we didn’t get a lot of hits, we got the job done.”

Stevens helped himself at the plate, recording both of the Lobos’ RBIs, scoring battery mate Marcus Bean each time.

Chatfield, the No. 8 seed, had its best scoring opportunity in the fourth inning when a two-out double from catcher Joey Plaster looked like it would score Connor Gray from first base. But after rounding third, Grey collided with the home plate umpire standing in his path.

Gray fell in his tracks, tried to get up and reach home in time, but was tagged out on the play.

Follow reporter Matt L. Stephens at twitter.com/mattstephens and facebook.com/stephensreporting.

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