Wolverinesï¿½'wild ride ends unexpectedly!
Written by: Joel Priest
Metro League rivals oust BHS in Greeley
By Joel Priest
Photo by Joel Priest Bayfield pitcher Trey Lange (5) delivers to the plate against Holy Family last Saturday afternoon in Greeley during elimination-bracket play in the 3A State Championship Series.
Following an intense, lengthy battle won against Brush junior designated hitter Ryan Hirschfeld closing out the fifth inning last Friday, Bayfield's Hunter Funkhouser couldn't help but let out a triumphant roar as he hopped off the Jackson Field mound.
Those who saw it and heard it knew it sent a message to the teams gathered in Greeley:
The Wolverines were for real.
Hard to believe that barely 28 hours later, after returning to the University of Northern Colorado's spacious venue, the 3A State Championship Series' three-seed was left reading that same message â€” marked "Return To Sender." The same squad which had abruptly ended Bayfield's 2012 season had done so again in 2013.
Enthusiasm generated in the previous morning's 16-2 dusting of Brush, cruelly muted later that afternoon by a late-inning Faith Christian rally -producing a 9-8 upset - was virtually invisible after Holy Family junior Zach Trombley froze senior Joey Webb on a third strike to polish off a 10-7 stunner. This denied the Wolverines a repeat trip to town this weekend to contest the prize once seemingly within reach.
"I think we played decent, but not the best we could play," said sophomore Matthew Knickerbocker, about the only BHS player composed enough to speak afterwards. "I mean, we hit the ball pretty good. But we just, it didn't "click" for us today, I guess. But it's still a good season."
Bayfield, the Intermountain League and District 7 champion, finished 20-4 overall.
#3 WOLVERINES 16, AT #6 BRUSH 2.
"I think it was 10 or 12 at least!" recalled Funkhouser, a senior right-hander, last Friday of the aforementioned moment which effectively buried the sixth-seeded Beetdiggers. "The umpire was working outside the whole game, so I decided to work outside. But then I threw a slider inside and it got him, he wasn't expecting that because, I decided to mix it up."
Senior Clay Miller's opposite-field blast off of, and over the left-centerfield fence leading off the visitors' half of the frame, and junior Trey Lange's subsequent opposite-way triple to right had already sparked a five-run fifth which put Bayfield ahead, 10 to 2, and chased Brush starter Kyle Rosenbrock (L; 4.2 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 0 BB, 11 K), a strong counterpart to Funkhouser (W; 5 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 12 K).
After a 1-2-3 sixth, senior Darren Hoselton got the Wolverines going again in the seventh with a one-out double off Niki Guzman (1.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 BB, 2 K), turning the lineup back over to leadoff man Drake Rhodes, who drew a walk. Knickerbocker (2-3, 2 BB, 3 R) and Miller then did likewise, Lange (2-5, R, 2 RBI) followed with a single to left, and Kelton McCoy (1-4, 2 RBI) singled to right.
He would soon score the game's final run on a two-out single to right by Webb off Zane Pfau (0.2 IP, 2 H), who relieved Guzman after McCoy's knock.
Miller finished 2-3 with two walks, scored three times and plated two, and Zane Phelps went 4-for-5 with a run and two driven in from the six-hole in Tom Horton's order.
"Yeah, I thought we all did a good job," said McCoy. "That pitcher [Rosenbrock, a sophomore] actually did pretty good, it was just one [hit] after another, and he was just done."
ï¿½They told meï¿½after graduationï¿½kind of like a graduation ï¿½presentï¿½ï¿½and theyï¿½re like, ï¿½Youï¿½re starting Game One,ï¿½ï¿½ said Funkhouser. ï¿½So I kind of took it easy this week at practice, thenï¿½came out here, warmed up really good. And then after that first inningï¿½I knew, ï¿½This is my game.ï¿½ï¿½
#3 WOLVERINES 8, AT #2 FAITH CHRISTIAN 9.
Again designated the ï¿½visitorsï¿½ via coin toss, BHS appeared to pick up Friday afternoon against Arvada-based FCHS (from the 3A Metro League along with HFHS) where they left off against Brush.
ï¿½We were definitely nervous before the game started, and we knew what the stakes were,ï¿½ said McCoy. ï¿½Once we started hitting the ball we were like, ï¿½Hey itï¿½s like every other game.ï¿½ï¿½
Rhodes reached against Tristan Ortega via catcher interference to start the show, and after Knickerbocker struck out looking, Miller (3-4, 3 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI) belted a ground-rule double to left and Lange followed with a double within the boundary. After a walk to McCoy, he would score on a Phelps sacrifice-fly to center, giving Miller an instant 3-0 lead with which to work from the hill.
And work he did, fanning six Eagles in the first three innings, while allowing just Tyler Tucker (single in the first) and Emilio Carbajal (error by Phelps at first in the second) to reach base.
Faith finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth, as both Tucker and Spencer Mochal reached and scoredï¿½Mochal crossing on a triple belted by sophomore Luke Bote, son of assistant coach Bob Bote (skipper of 4A Niwotï¿½s title-winning teams in 1998-2000, ï¿½04 and ï¿½05).
Rhodes, Knickerbocker and Miller went single-double-double to start the fifth, and each scored to rebuild the Wolverinesï¿½ lead to 6-2, but the Eaglesï¿½ timing against Miller continually improved. Leadoff man Tyler Deen and two-hole Stephen Galambos (2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) singled and doubled in the bottom half of the frame and both scoredï¿½Deen via a straight steal of home with Mochal at batï¿½to creep back to 6-4.
Ortega (ND; 5.2 IP, 8 H, BB, 2 K) was pulled in favor of Mochal after getting Hoselton for the second out in the visitorsï¿½ sixth, and Mochal (W; 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, K) then got Rhodes to ground to third before Ortega then led off for FCHS with a single in the bottom of the inning.
Bote then smacked another three-bagger to center, and Miller (ND; 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, BB) was pulled with BHS still up by one. But after Knickerbocker walked Josh Mihalcin, pinch-hitter Kody von Holdt singled to left to plate Bote and deny Bayfieldï¿½s aceï¿½who struck out tenï¿½a result in his final prep start.
Galambos then hit a one-out double to center, and Tucker (2-4, R, RBI) followed with a single past McCoy, manning second for the game. Mochal then flew to Miller in center and Carbajal grounded out to short, but the damage was done.
Miller scored Knickerbocker (3-4, 2 R, RBI; L, IP, 2 H, 3 R, BB) from first with a long double to right, and would score himself on a Mochal balk to McCoy after Lange (1-4, R, 2 RBI) flew out. But McCoy went down swinging and Phelps bounced out to short to end the action.
#5 HOLY FAMILY 10, AT #3 WOLVERINES 7.
Austin McMenimen, 2-for-3 with a triple against FCHS, couldnï¿½t have done any more to keep the Wolverinesï¿½at last the ï¿½homeï¿½ team on the scoreboardï¿½alive on Survival Saturday if heï¿½d tried.
Robbing Tiger leadoff hitter Austin Brown with a sliding grab in left to start the showdown, and ending Holy Familyï¿½s seventh with his second catch in two innings of six-hole Jacob Tinnon, the Bayfield senior also snagged two more flies, batted 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI, and gunned out Brown trying to advance to third in the top of the fifth.
His last ribbie would come in BHSï¿½ seventh, on a groundout to Tiger second baseman Matt Erb which brought in Phelps (1-4), whoï¿½d tripled to right with one away. But Phelpsï¿½ rip and Knickerbockerï¿½s massive solo blast over the fence in left-center the inning before were the only hits Trombley (W; CG, 9 H, 4 BB, 6 K) allowed while retiring 10 of 12 in succession to end the game.
Which undoubtedly took some of the sting out of going 0-for-5 (including a 5-4-3 double play-starting bouncer to Hoselton, ending the Family fifth) at the plate himself.
ï¿½I thought it was going to be a flyout to the centerfielder,ï¿½ Knickerbocker said of his bomb, ï¿½so I was kind of jogging. And then I saw him [HFHSï¿½ Jay Elliott] run back; Iï¿½m like, ï¿½Oh boy, Iï¿½d better run!ï¿½ About five feet from third base I figured out it was a home run.ï¿½
ï¿½But that doesnï¿½t really matter, because in the end we lost.ï¿½
Bayfieldï¿½s only lead came in the bottom of the first when Rhodes (1-3, 2 R), having singled to greet Trombley, came in on a Lange single to center. But the Tiger got out of the bases-loaded jam by getting McCoy on a called third strike, and Phelps to hit into a 6-4-3 DP rolling up Lange (2-3, BB, 2 RBI).
Holy Family answered the single scratch with three of their own in the top of the second off Hoselton (L; 2.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, BB, HB, also 2 IP, K versus Brush), and would add another in the third before Horton brought Lange (3.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 2 HB, K) in to spell his starter.
But the fix was soon proven temporary. After recovering two runs [Miller, Lange] in their third without benefit of a basehit, the Tigers swiped them back in the top of the fourth, and added another pair to put the Wolverines down 8-3 before Rhodes and Miller (1-2, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI) scored in the home half.
HFHS third baseman Adrian Do (3-3, BB, 2 R, RBI) and DH Zach Dedin (2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) each singled and scored with two outï¿½Dedin on a Knickerbocker wild pitch to Erbï¿½in the sixth, giving Trombley enough of a morale boost to buoy him amidst a wave of well-hit balls in the two decisive stanzas.
ï¿½It was good; offensively it was awesome,ï¿½ Funkhouser said after the Brush game, but also rather representative in hindsight of Bayfieldï¿½s overall batting for the three games. ï¿½This past week during practice we knew weï¿½d face some good teams, good pitching, so we just stuck to hitting.ï¿½
ï¿½Our saying is ï¿½Do What We Do,ï¿½ï¿½ said McCoy. ï¿½And when we do that it doesnï¿½t matter who weï¿½re playingï¿½weï¿½re playing the white ball. If we hit, throw and catch, we can beat anybody.ï¿½
But sometimes, ï¿½anybodyï¿½ doesï¿½and in BHSï¿½ case, didï¿½just a little more of each.