Palisade rallies but falls in 4A district tourney
It was a great comeback but a disappointing outcome for the Palisade Bulldogs on Saturday.
Playing the first game of the Class 4A District 4 baseball tournament, the Bulldogs rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 4-4, only to see Pueblo East push a run across in the top of the eighth to secure the victory at Canyon View Park.
Palisade came in with only two losses on the season, leaving the Bulldogs with a tough way for their season to end.
“Baseball is baseball, and you have to give the other team credit. They beat us today,” Palisade coach Steve Moore said.
Pueblo East pitcher Petey Martinez was crafty and masterful through six innings, keeping Palisade hitters off balance by changing speeds and locations.
Then came the seventh, and the left-handed Martinez looked like he would finish what he started, but the Bulldogs had other ideas.
Trailing 4-1 and down to their final out, the Bulldogs loaded the bases, and Troy Levinson, who had two singles and a walk in the game, drilled a sharp run-scoring single up the middle. That brought senior Caden Woods to the plate with the bases still loaded.
Woods, who came into the game hitting over .600 on the season, was undaunted by the pressure and ripped a two-run single to right. Pinch-runner Noah Martinez motored home from second, sliding under the tag for the tying run, and the Palisade faithful erupted in cheers.
“He was the right man in the right spot. He’s been hitting like that all year for us,” Moore said about Woods.
The celebration was short-lived.
In the top of the eighth, Darion Ibarra worked a leadoff walk off relief pitcher Cameron Campbell. Two singles later, Ibarra scored, and Pueblo East had a 5-4 lead. Sonny Arellano, who had three singles on the day, had the game-winning RBI.
Even after losing the lead, Palisade had a chance in the bottom of the eighth, but the game ended abruptly in a bizarre mix of confusion and defensive excellence.
Arellano relieved Petey Martinez in the eighth for the Eagles. Campbell and Tass Crow worked walks and occupied first and second base when Easton Woods hit a grounder that looked like it was heading into right field. But second baseman Ryan Armijo shuffled to his left and made a diving stop, then he tossed to first for the out. Campbell took off from second when it appeared the ball was going to make it through the infield but he has tagged out at home as he tried to score.
Stunned silence blanketed the Palisade bleachers as Pueblo East players poured out of the dugout in celebration.
Cody Higman started the game for Palisade, coasting through the first three innings. But he struggled with his control, partly because of a pesky finger blister. Campbell was brilliant in relief despite the loss, striking out eight in his 3 1/3 innings.