Steves hits 1st career HR to lift Orchard Mesa past Tri-Lakes Little League
By PATRICK BAHR
and SENTINEL STAFF
If Koby Steves knew it was going to be gone, he probably would have relished his first career home run a tad bit longer.
Saturday during Orchard Mesa’s first game of the 11-year-old state Little League tournament, Steves hit a deep fly ball that carried over the fence at Orchard Mesa Little League.
“I thought it hit the fence at first, so I was going full speed around first base,” Steves said.
“Then I saw the umpire wave his hand, so I took it from there and jogged in.”
Steves’ two-run home run gave Orchard Mesa a 4-1 lead. Orchard Mesa didn’t look back, scoring three more runs in the inning on its way to a 9-2 win over Tri-Lakes.
Steves’ second-inning home run followed a first-inning triple by the Orchard Mesa shortstop and leadoff hitter. He finished the day 3 for 4 with three runs scored.
“That’s the first home run of his career,” Orchard Mesa coach Pete Steves said. “I was wondering if he had got enough of it, but sure enough it went over the fence, and he had a huge smile on his face afterward.”
Orchard Mesa’s five-run second inning was propelled by Thomas Eaton’s two-RBI single.
Eaton also hit an RBI single in the fifth inning.
“We came out swinging the bats really good,” Pete Steves said. “They had a kid (who) was
throwing really hard, but our batters came through and hit the ball.”
Orchard Mesa pitcher Andrew Martinez threw 42/3 innings, giving up only two runs.
Orchard Mesa got the most out of Martinez, as he threw the limit of 85 pitches and won’t be available for use on the mound again until Tuesday.
“Andrew threw a great game,” Pete Steves said.
Orchard Mesa advanced to face North Boulder, which defeated Summit County 33-0 on Saturday. Koby Steves said it was important to begin the state tournament with a strong win.
“We had to come back and win this game,” Koby said. “We’ve had a long, two-week break and this game was important for us to get our groove back.”
Today’s game serves as one of the most important games of the tournament. The winner receives a bid into the championship game on Tuesday.
“(Sunday’s game) is the key to the whole tournament,” Pete Steves said. “These guys don’t need a whole bunch of pep talk, they’ll just go out and play.”
In other action from Saturday’s opening round of state Little League tournaments, the Grand Mesa Major girls softball team began its tournament in Cherry Creek with a 15-0, four-inning victory over High Plains.
Shelby Rubalcaba and Krista Burgher each tossed two innings, giving up a combined two hits.
Kenzie Lange went 3 for 3 with a double and three runs batted in.
The Grand Mesa Major boys won their opening game at Hidden Lake, shutting out Steamboat Springs 10-0. Grand Mesa plays North Boulder in a winners’ bracket game at 1 p.m. today.
The Grand Mesa Senior boys were also victorious, defeating Sherrelwood 13-5 at Hidden Lake. Grand Mesa plays Colorado Springs at 1 p.m. today in the winners’ bracket.
The Monument 9-10 boys lost their opening game to North Boulder 3-1 at Cherry Creek. Monument faces Cherry Creek in the losers’ bracket at 10 a.m. today.