Colorado 5A District Preview


Neil Devlin
Senior Writer

Elimination baseball is here.

Class 5A’s 32-team regionals are set for Saturday and 24 games will set the eight-team Championship Series field for double elimination the ensuing two weekends.

Below is some of what you need to know before first pitches besides the fact that five of the eight hosts belong to the ever-powerful Continental League:

 

REGION 1 (Saturday at Mountain Vista H.S.)

Game 1: No. 8 Mullen (13-10) vs. No. 1 Mountain Vista (21-2), 12:30 p.m.

 Game 2: No. 5 Castle View (14-9) vs. No. 4 Dakota Ridge (13-10), 10 a.m.

 Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3 p.m.

It’s about defending state champion Mountain Vista, which has won 17 games in a row and is led by Minnesota signee, 2018 player of the year and all-around star Sam Ireland (.435, 11 doubles, five home runs, 31 runs batted in), although the Golden Eagles certainly have depth, versatility and power, as evidenced by their 79 extra-base hits, including 22 homers.

Mullen, staring at a terrific upset opportunity, also played MV in the first round last year and lost 17-2.

Dakota Ridge (senior Ryan Stohr, 10 doubles, 6 HRs) is 1-11 against the Golden Eagles, including losing 17-5 on April 2, and Castle View, which sees MV regularly in the Continental, is 1-8.

 

REGION 2 (Saturday at Legend H.S.)

Game 1: No. 7 Fossil Ridge (13-10) vs. No. 2 Legend (14-9), 12:30 p.m.

 Game 2: No. 6 Fruita Monument (11-9) vs. No. 3 Rocky Mountain (15-7-1), 10 a.m.

 Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3 p.m.

Legend opened the season 2-5, yet here the Titans are, two home victories away from the Championship Series. Senior Justin Boyd (Oregon State) is batting .465 with 16 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs.

Fort Collins’ Fossil Ridge was only 5-8 down the stretch. Crosstown-rival Rocky Mountain hasn’t played as well as coach Scott Bullock would like, but counting out the ever-present Lobos is silly. Fruita Monument is yet another Western Slope unknown.

 

REGION 3 (Saturday at Windsor H.S.)

Game 1: No. 8 Denver South (15-8) vs. No. 1 Windsor (19-4), 10 a.m.

 Game 2: No. 5 Grandview (15-8) vs. No. 4 Ralston Valley (15-8), 11:30 a.m.

 Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 1 p.m.

Windsor jumping to 5A and being good can only help the big-school game. 2019 Owen Lockner is 7-1 with a 0.58 earned-run average and 77 strikeouts in 48 innings.

Denver South is on a seven-game roll.

Meanwhile, Ralston Valley, the Jefferson County champion, and Colorado Mesa commit Trey Adams (.500, 12 doubles, five homers, 30 RBIs) remain capable of advancing and Grandview has virtually been as hot as any other team down the stretch and tied Cherry Creek for the Centennial title.

 

REGION 4 (Saturday at Douglas County H.S.)

Game 1: No. 7 Prairie View (15-7) vs. No. 2 Douglas County (15-7), noon

Game 2: No. 6 Legacy (13-10) vs. No. 3 Grand Junction (14-9), 9:30

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.

Douglas County grabbed a host berth despite dropping its past four games and five-of-six. The Huskies and junior Case Williams (7-1, 1.53 ERA, 71 strikeouts in 45.2 innings, Santa Clara) had been 12-1.

Prairie View is an unknown in terms of competition as the champion of the East Metro Athletic Conference.

Grand Junction has one of 5A’s finest talents in Wichita State-bound Derek Shaver (.449, eight doubles, six triples) and up-and-down Legacy rallied from a 1-6 start.

 

REGION 5 (Saturday at REGIS JESUIT H.S.)

Game 1: No. 5 Fort Collins (16-7) vs. No. 4 Chatfield (15-8), 9:30 a.m.

Game 2:  No. 8 Monarch (11-11) vs. No. 1 Regis Jesuit (18-5), noon

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.

Regis Jesuit is very dangerous with Penn State commit Caden Wagner (.468, nine homers, 36 RBIs) and about as deep of a pitching staff as there has been in years.

Monarch would like to shake off its .500 moniker.

And let’s face it – Fort Collins (junior Colby Shade, .535 avg.) vs. Chatfield (junior Landon Gaber, .440 avg.) is probably the best on the first-round board.

 

REGION 6 (Saturday at Pine Creek H.S.)

Game 1: No. 7 Broomfield (11-11) vs. No. 2 Pine Creek (16-7), 10 a.m.

Game 2:No. 6 Loveland (13-10) vs. No. 3 Chaparral (14-9), 12:30 p.m.

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3 p.m.

Concerning Pine Creek (senior Riley Cornelio, 7-2, 89 strikeouts in 49 innings, Texas Christian), it’s the same question – Is this the year the Colorado Springs Eagles, who have had talent and numbers in the past, break out against the high end of big schools?

Always gritty Broomfield is capable of a first-round upset.

Loveland and head coach Greg Brock will get a taste of the Continental, in this case Chaparral and senior Ryan McKown (.353 avg., five homers).

 

REGION 7 (Saturday at Heritage H.S.)

Game 1: No. 5 Boulder (15-8) vs. No. 4 Rock Canyon (14-8), 10 a.m.

Game 2: No. 8 Mountain Range (12-11) vs. No. 1 Heritage (16-7), 1 p.m.

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4 p.m.

Fact is, Heritage has been one of the top teams all season with an experienced group that has balance and versatility as well as Arkansas Little Rock senior Eric McKnight, who leads the Eagles in hits at the plate (25) and strikeouts on the mound (48).

Mountain Range wants to make some more of the noise it made a year ago, advancing to the Championship Series.

Boulder seems to have righted itself after opening the Front Range League 0-4 and the Continental’s Rock Canyon has some quality victories, including 12-7 over Heritage on April 9.

 

REGION 8 (Saturday at Cherry Creek H.S.)

Game 1: No. 6 ThunderRidge (11-12) vs. No. 3 Horizon (17-6), 9:30 a.m.

Game 2: No. 7 Valor Christian (11-11) vs. No. 2 Cherry Creek (17-6), noon

 Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.

For nearly five decades, Cherry Creek is exactly 800-200 under fabled coach Marc Johnson, arguably The Godfather of the in-state game. The Bruins also can swing it, notably with Virginia commit Jack Moss, who’s batting .520 with 39 hits, 10 doubles and 27 RBIs.

And isn’t it Interesting that Valor Christian, the former 4A dominant program, have to face the Bruins in its first taste of big-school playoffs?

ThunderRidge may be the only sub-.500 team in the 5A postseason, but the Grizzlies also have pitcher, LSU commit Cale Lansville and who wants to face him in the first round? And Horizon may have one of the quietest 17-6 marks in recent memory?