Windsor is three wins away from its first Class 4A state baseball championship.
Which is a pretty good place to be considering it had lost its opening game in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament and had to win twice Saturday with ace right-hander Jake Greenwalt unavailable to pitch after topping 90 pitches in the defeat the day before.
It’s fair to say that Windsor has more than just Greenwalt, the likely Major League Baseball draft pick, on the mound.
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Lefty Christian Montague and right-hander Corte Tapia both turned in clutch efforts in victories that kept the Wizards alive.
“We’re going to need all three of them if we’re going to win a state championship,” Windsor coach Brad Deal said.
Greenwalt (9-1) appears to be the most likely option to get the ball in Friday’s 2:30 p.m. game against Pueblo West at All-Star Park in Lakewood.
A win would make Windsor and Pueblo West two of the three one-loss teams remaining in the tournament (the Valor Christian-Erie winner would be the other) and set up perhaps two more games Saturday. Windsor and the Cyclones are 20-4 on the season.
Windsor beat Pueblo West 2-0 in a district final last year before losing twice at state. Now the Wizards are hoping for a program first.
Next up: Windsor vs. Pueblo West, 2:30 p.m. Friday, All-Star Park in Lakewood.
Saturday: If Windsor beats Pueblo West, the Wizards would play at 10 a.m. Saturday at All-Star (again playing the Cyclones). A win in that game would put Windsor in the championship at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
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Weather contingency: If weather forces postponements, games could be pushed into Sunday. Additionally, playing games on synthetic field at Metro State is a possibility.
“We’re hoping we can bring Windsor its first state championship,” Deal said.
Greenwalt had allowed only eight earned runs all season before giving up six in the opening-round loss to Valor Christian. The Eagles were able to put some of his 91 to 93 mph fastballs in play for hits, and while they couldn’t do much with Greenwalt’s curveball, a high changeup led to a game-changing grand slam.
“I’m more determined than I ever have been,” Greenwalt said. “I haven’t been hit like that in a long time.”
Deal said he expects the usual Greenwalt on Friday.
“He’s pretty even-keel,” Deal said. “But he’s such a great competitor that I know he just wants the ball again, to go out and help his team win. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
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With their backs to the wall, the Wizards turned to Montague (4-0) against Air Academy, and the senior delivered in the 3-2 victory.
“I was nervous,” Montague said, laughing. “We’d already lost a game. You just can’t be cool. You’re going to be the guy who gets joked on if we lose.”
Montague speaks the truth. Tapia spent a portion of a group interview needling Greenwalt for giving up the home run.
These guys are competitors, but they’re relaxed, too. A good combination.
“Everything is crazy until you start going inning by inning,” Montague said.
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After Montague’s key win, Tapia (6-0) shut out Delta 6-0 to send the Wizards to the second weekend of the tournament.
“We knew that if we could win that one, we were facing somebody’s No. 3 (pitcher) with a guy like Corte,” Deal said. “That’s a pretty good matchup for us.”
It was the junior’s second consecutive postseason shutout.
“It wasn’t really all on us,” Tapia said of the pitchers. “The defense was great behind us. It was a team effort, and we all came together.”
Windsor is hoping to do that one more time this weekend to deliver that first state title.
“We just want to keep it going and see where it takes us,” Tapia said.