Tri-Lakes forces title game in must-win
By PATRICK BAHR and SENTINEL STAFF
It was win or go home for Tri-Lakes.
The circumstances set up an intense 10-11-year-old boys Little League state championship game between Orchard Mesa and Tri-Lakes that carried the feeling throughout the game.
Tri-Lakes overcame every comeback Orchard Mesa could muster Tuesday night to win 9-8, forcing a final game tonight at 5 p.m. at Orchard Mesa Little League.
“Tri-Lakes is a great team, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win,” Orchard Mesa coach Gene Garcia said. “They came ready to play and wanted it more than we did.”
After losing to Orchard Mesa in the first game of the tournament, Tri-Lakes worked its way to the championship with wins over Summit County and North Boulder. Riding that momentum, Tri-Lakes jumped to an early 3-0 lead on Tuesday.
Orchard Mesa cut the lead to 3-2 on Andrew Martinez’s two-run home run, but Tri-Lakes broke the game open in the fourth, scoring four runs to take a 7-2 lead.
Martinez came through again for Orchard Mesa, this time with a three-run home run in the top of the fifth to cut the game to 7-5.
Then things got interesting.
Ominous clouds surrounded the field throughout the first five innings, but by the fifth, the clouds had moved over the field and lightning was reported within five miles of the field.
Play was stopped after Martinez’s home run.
Once the teams had cleared the field, a hard, blowing rain pounded the field and created a mess. When the rain subsided, it was decided by both teams to attempt to dry the field and finish the game.
Two hours after play stopped, the game was resumed.
Orchard Mesa didn’t waste any time and continued its rally. Hunter Kelchner hit a two-run double to tie the game at 7-7.
“After the rain delay, we had more emotion,” Garcia said. “But before that we were flat.”
Tri-Lakes refused to give in and took a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the fifth and held on for the victory.
“We came in a little too cocky,” Garcia said. “So hopefully we come out tomorrow ready to play.”
The Fruita 9-10 year-old girls softball team avenged a loss on Sunday by defeating Shaw Heights on Tuesday 7-5 in Fruita.
The ‘if-necessary’ championship game is tonight at
5:30 in Fruita.
The Grand Mesa Major girls kept their unbeaten streak intact, defeating Shaw Heights 7-0 to win the championship in Cherry Creek.
Shelby Rubalcaba tossed a one-hit complete game. She joined Kenzie Lange and Cassandra Lucero in getting two hits at the plate.
Grand Mesa leaves Friday for Waco, Texas, where it will play in the Southwestern Region tournament beginning Sunday against New Mexico at 6 p.m. CST.
Grand Mesa also won the Senior boys title, defeating Colorado Springs 12-4 in Hidden Lake.
That team travels to Seguin, Texas, this weekend to begin its regional tournament.
The Grand Mesa Major boys incurred its first loss Tuesday, falling 6-2 to North Boulder.
Cameron Campbell had a home run and Christian Corra hit an RBI for Grand Mesa, which plays North Boulder tonight in Hidden Lake with the winner earning the state title.
The Monument boys lost to North Boulder 16-12 in the 9-10 year-old boys championship at Cherry Creek.
North Boulder scored nine runs in the first inning. Monument came back to tie the game 9-9 and again 12-12 but gave up a pair of runs each in two of the latter innings.