Tigers, ’Dogs know they have to play their best to advance in district baseball tourney
Last season, Grand Junction High School’s baseball team found out the hard way that hosting a district doesn’t guarantee anything.
The Tigers earned the No. 6 seed last year, but were upset by No. 11 Legacy. And although a rules violation by Legacy later allowed the Tigers to make it into the state tournament, Grand Junction learned its lesson from the tough loss.
“Anything can happen in the district,” Grand Junction’s Geoff Baldwin said. “If you play one bad game or have one bad inning, you are done.”
The Tigers earned the No. 16 seed and play No. 17 seed Ralston Valley at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rampart High School. Rampart is the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket and plays Monarch at 10 a.m.
“We are happy to be in the playoffs,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “We know Ralston Valley is always strong pitching-wise.”
The team that finished above the Tigers in the Southwestern League didn’t fare much better.
Durango won the SWL on a tiebreaker and was given the No. 15 seed, which pits the Demons against ThunderRidge in the Cherry Creek district.
“Rampart has a strong record,” Rush said. “We played them last year, but right now our focus is to try and figure out Ralston Valley.”
Ralston Valley finished 14-5 and ended the year on a five-game winning streak. The Mustangs are led by pitcher Peter Herrin, who has a 3.19 ERA.
“We have to come out strong,” Baldwin said. “I have been in the districts for four years, and I learned that’s when you have to play your best baseball.”
Palisade ended its season on a four-game winning streak, and hopes to take that hot streak into its first-round game with Skyline.
“Our main focus is doing what we have to do on the field, and the scoreboard will take care of itself,” Palisade coach Steve Moore said. “We are a very hungry team right now.”
The Bulldogs earned the No. 21 seed and face a Skyline team (No. 12 seed) that finished 12-7 in the Northern League. The game is at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Pueblo South.
“We aren’t scared of anyone; we just want to go play baseball,” Moore said. “Whatever team is out there, we are going to give 100 percent.”
Other 4A Western Slope teams to make it to districts are Montrose (No. 17 seed), which plays Fort Lupton (No. 16) in the Broomfield District. Eagle Valley earned the No. 18 seed and faces No. 15 Lewis Palmer. Glenwood Springs is the No. 30 seed and takes on No. 3 Wheat Ridge.
Western Slope League champion Delta is hosting District 8, which includes D’Evelyn , Kennedy and Roosevelt .
In Class 3A, Hotchkiss, Olathe, Cedaredge and Aspen are all on the road. No. 8 seed Gunnison will host a district.