Rye claims Class 2A championship

By Jeff Letofsky

PBR Colorado Senior Writer

Not only did they run the hidden ball trick to perfection to win a game, they achieved perfection.

The Rye High School baseball team rallied twice from big deficits to sweep through the Class 2A Final Four and claim its second state championship on Saturday at the Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo.

The Thunderbolts completed a 25-0 season by knocking off Hotchkiss 9-8 in the semifinals and then edging defending champion Resurrection Christian 12-10 in the finale. Both times, Rye was forced to come from behind. It was able to overcome demons in the process after failing to get past the semifinals the past three seasons after winning a state championship in 2011.

Against Hotchkiss, the T-bolts trailed 6-0 before tying the game with a six-run third inning, highlighted by a grand slam home run from senior Trent Hughes (Colorado Northeastern commit).

Rye took a 9-8 lead into the seventh inning before Hotchkiss threatened with the tying run at second base. That's when Rye head coach Stacey Graham called for the hidden ball trick. T-bolt pitcher Luis Ortiz faked a pickoff to second base where Rye fielders feigned an errant throw. The Hotchkiss base runner dove back into second base, stood up and raced for third. Ortiz ran from the mound with the ball and tagged him out for the final out, propelling the T-bolts into the championship game.

The video of the play went viral and was among the top 10 plays on ESPN that night.

Resurrection Christian (18-5), which had won state in 2014 and 2012, blanked Burlington 4-0 to earn the right to meet the Thunderbolts.

Once again, Rye came back from a deficit -- this time 9-4 -- to win.

Ironically, in 23 previous games, the Thunderbolts trailed only once -- to Trinidad in the South-Central League bash in late March. They came back to win that game 7-6.

"They compete, they battle, never give up," said Graham, only in his second year at Rye. "Coming back in both games was huge. That's big time against quality teams. That's huge."

"We face adversity this year but we always stuck together as a family," said Ortiz, who is committed to play at Lamar Community College. "When we were behind we told each other it's not over. This is so special. I couldn't imagine a better group of teammates to win a state championship with."

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