Colorado 5A Final Four Preview


Neil Devlin

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No, you are not seeing things or in denial.

The 2019 Class 5A Championship Series, set for Friday-Saturday at All-City Field, will be decided by the Centennial League vs. the Continental League. Don’t argue. The final four teams were the best we were able to watch when this spring season, one of the worst to play in in memory, allowed us.

Start with Cherry Creek (21-7). Yes, the Bruins are the all-time leader in Colorado titles won by more than 100, have garnered the top number of baseball championships among big schools (eight), have the state’s largest enrollment and excel in just about everything, but there also seems to be some sentimentality involved here.

Seventy-four-year-old head coach Marc Johnson recently led the Bruins to their 800th victory with him in command and his players have responded. They come from behind, win by walk-off and 10-run rule … anything to win a game. At the plate, Virginia commit 2019 Jack Moss (.500 avg., 13 doubles, 29 runs batted in), Ben Perla (.491, seven triples) and Metropolitan State commit 2019 Brice Martinez (.412, six triples, 31 RBIs) lead the assault. On the mound, Nathan Mitchell (Navy) is 10-0.

Never under-estimate these guys.

As for Grandview (19-9), which the Bruins will face on Friday, 10 a.m., it began 0-4 and 3-8, dropped two Centennial games to Cherry Creek, then won 16 games in a row, including knocking off defending state champion Mountain Vista in the Championship Series. The Wolves and head coach Scott Henry are coming off a 3-0 loss to Regis Jesuit, but remain dangerous.

2019 RHP Peter Goldy heads the Wolves in RBIs (31) doubles (eight) and home runs (four), and is 5-0 pitching with a 5-0 record and 2.16 ERA. Fellow 2019 RHP Josh Hojnowksi, who homered against Mountain Vista, also is 7-4 on the mound.

Grandview has been as resilient as any team.

Defending state champion Mountain Vista (25-3 and 51-4 over two seasons with just two in-state losses, both in the Championship Series) has been knocked down from favorite status by some, but every group has its fools. The Golden Eagles will resume their Continental rivalry with Regis Jesuit on Friday, 12:30 p.m. For the record, Mountain Vista won the regular-season meeting 5-1.

Offensively, Indiana State commit Grant Magill (.495, five homers, 39 RBIs), 2019 Metropolitan State commit John Zakhem (.435, four homers), 2019 Minnesota commit Sam Ireland (.426, five homers, 12 doubles, 34 RBIs) and 2019 Washington State commit Drew Stahl (.391, eight homers, 40 RBIs) have been machine-like. Ireland, (8-0, 1.04 ERA), Clay Burke (6-1, 2.22 ERA) and freshman Tyler Mejia (5-0, 3.32 ERA) set up a formidable starting staff.

They’re the best we have until we see otherwise.

Meanwhile, Regis Jesuit (23-5) has been on a 10-game winning streak and enters the final weekend as the only undefeated team in the double-elimination format.

And here’s a great statistic – the Raiders have won by shutout nine times this season. Nine times. Credit the likes of Chase Allen, Brent DiBiase, Ethan Gedrose, Patrick Strawbridge, Jacob Thompsen, and Alec Willis and Bradshaw Willis for getting outs. Caden Wagner (.435, 10 homers, 39 RBIs, 40 hits) has been a bear at the plate.

So it will be interesting for the Raiders to see if the adage of good pitching beats good hitting comes to fruition among big schools.