Tigers, Wildcats, Bulldogs primed for playoffs

Pete Lelich and the Palisade baseball drew Cheyenne Mountain for its first-round playoff game.

When the Colorado High School Activities Association released the Class 5A state baseball playoff bracket Wednesday, the Grand Junction High School baseball team had no complaints.

The Tigers were awarded the No. 11 seed and travel to Ralston Valley High School on Saturday, where they’ll face No. 22 Mountain Vista (10-9) at 12:30 p.m. All district playoff games are Saturday.

If they win, the Tigers (15-4) play the winner of No. 6 Ralston Valley (15-4) and No. 27 Loveland (10-8) at 3 p.m.

The Tigers thought they had an outside chance to host, but are happy getting a seed that gives them an opportunity to advance.

“We thought it would be hard to host and losses early in the year might have cost us,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “But we are happy with it, and we feel refreshed and ready.”

Grand Junction was the last Grand Valley team to bring home a state championship in baseball, in 2005. Grand Junction has also been on the other side, losing 15-5 to Ralston Valley in the first round last season.

“Getting through the first weekend is the toughest by far,” Rush said. “You have to win two games, and if you run into a good kid on the mound, you can be better everywhere else but on the mound, and that will cost you.”

Fruita Monument (11-7) received the No. 26 seed and plays at Regis (13-6) at 10 a.m.

“I thought it was good, we were hoping for a little higher, but I don’t mind it,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “The kids are excited to play, and anxious for the opportunity to play.”

The Wildcats missed out on the postseason last year, but worked their way in this season despite losing their final three games. Fruita Monument lost the three games by a total of six runs.

“We feel like we’ve been playing good baseball lately,” McLennan said. “The guys have worked hard this week, and I like our chances and I like the game we drew.”

In Class 4A, Palisade (14-5) won the Western Slope League, but drew the No. 17 seed and are in the same district as No. 1 Mountain View (18-1). Palisade’s first game is against No. 16 Cheyenne Mountain (14-5) at 12:30 p.m.

“I was shocked, we win our league and are in the same district as the No. 1 seed,” Palisade coach Steve Moore said. “We’ll be a big underdog and we’re excited to play.”

Other WSL teams to make the playoffs were No. 23 Delta, which plays No. 10 Broomfield, No. 25 Eagle Valley, which takes on No. 8 Silver Creek, and No. 30 Rifle, which plays No. 3 Wheat Ridge.

Montrose won the SWL and was rewarded with the No. 2 seed in Class 4A. The Indians play No. 31 Falcon, with No. 15 Golden and No. 18 Niwot facing off in the other first-round game.

In Class 3A, the WSL has four teams in the field, led by No. 5 seed Olathe (16-3). The Pirates host a district with No. 28 Rye, No. 12 Middle Park and No. 21 Machebeuf.

WSL runner-up Cedaredge hosts a district tournament as the No. 8 seed. Hotchkiss made the playoffs at No. 13, Roaring Fork is No. 17 and Aspen No. 31.

In 2A, Paonia made the postseason and plays at Custer County.


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