Rocky Mountain falls just short of sixth baseball title

Alex Gonzales and Brendan Paul of Rocky Mountain High School share a hug after a 9-4 loss to Cherokee Trail in the state championship series at All City Field in Denver Sunday.

Alex Gonzales and Brendan Paul of Rocky Mountain High School share a hug after a 9-4 loss to Cherokee Trail in the state championship series at All City Field in Denver Sunday.

DENVER — Their hands were reaching around the trophy.

It was within their grasp, ready to return to what Rocky Mountain High School feels is the rightful home of the baseball championship.

The Lobos looked primed to win the Class 5A title Sunday at All-City Field, leading Cherokee Trail early in the winner-takes-all game.

Then the Cougars clawed back, tearing away at Rocky Mountain’s lead to pull out a 9-4 win to secure the state title.

“For a while it’s going to hurt,” Rocky Mountain coach Scott Bullock said. “I just told them they’ll look back on this season in such a positive light. They battled through so much.”

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Rocky Mountain (19-8) had forced the second and deciding game by beating Cherokee Trail (22-5) 2-0 to hand the Cougars their first loss of the double-elimination tournament.

The Lobos were coming out of the losers bracket after falling to Cherokee Trail last week, looking to become the first 5A team since 2011 to beat one opponent twice on the final day for a title.

For so long it looked like destiny that Rocky Mountain would win its sixth title in 10 years. In the first game, John Sorensen was sensational on the mound, dodging trouble and pitching a complete game shutout. A two-run double from Kadin Breeze gave the Lobos the only runs they needed.

In the title game, it was more of the same from the start. Sorensen scored on a Spencer Gendreau single in the first and another run scored on an error.

In the second inning, Easton Dolan hit his first home run of the season to go up 3-0.

“We had the momentum going and hopes were high right then,” Sorensen said.

Then Cherokee Trail started to fight Rocky Mountain’s pitching staff, partially depleted from injuries. The Cougars had a two-run homer in the third, then three runs with key doubles from John-Michael Osley in the fourth and sixth innings.

LOBOSConsistency breeds success for Rocky Mountain baseball

And that did it.

The Lobos quietly congratulated Cherokee Trail, leaving the field somber but not distraught. Long after the game ended a few smiles popped up as the team took a picture with the second-place trophy.

While Rocky Mountain always aims for a title — the Lobos were in their seventh title game in 10 years — this season was far from easy.

Rocky Mountain lost twice in the last week of the regular season and placed in a district with No. 1 overall seed Pine Creek.

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The Lobos won out, pulling off the upset. Then they lost on the first weekend of the state tournament, but fought all the way back to the title game.

The picture with the silver runner-up trophy wasn’t the one they wanted, but still one they take proudly.

“We’re sad, but we’re so proud of each other,” Sorensen said. “We were the underdogs. We’re just proud of every single one of us. There were so many highs and so many lows. No one thought we were going to make it to the state title game. We made it here.”

Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at and at

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