Fri May 24th, 2019
Special to the Drum
Completing a season often as confusing to gauge as the sudden winter storm which whacked the Pine River Valley just four days before this May 24 Drum hit newsstands, Ignacio’s 2019 campaign came to an end in the 2A-District 3/5 Baseball Tournament’s play-in phase.
With a scheduled May 9 trip to Delta County unexpectedly pushed up by two days, the Bobcats managed to hang with potent Paonia – also struggling through a spring baffling by that program’s high standards – through nearly two innings before succumbing 13-2 in five.
Lone active senior Rendon Mestas went a reported 0-for-0 in two plate appearances, but reached base both times via a walk and a hit-by-pitch, and scored once for IHS, which finished 1-14 overall after trailing the hosting Eagles 5-2 entering the bottom of the second.
Junior Ian Weinreich was 1-2 with a run, and freshman Gabe Tucson was 1-1 but took the loss on the pitcher’s mound against PHS’ pair of senior Soul Connolly and sidearm-ing junior Grey Neal.
“Kids are being versatile,” first-year Bobcat skipper Don Hayes had said earlier in the season, despite injuries and oddities beginning to curtail his young team’s development. “Gerald (Howe) says ‘Yeah I can play right field, Coach’ and then we’re like ‘Come in and play infield – your normal spot.’ Cesar (Pedregon) gave us what he could pitching … played well at third. Ian, after pitching … covered short really well.”
“Overall … I think they’re starting to understand that it’s a whole process,” he continued. “I have most of them in class as well, one year or the other, so I know them all. And baseball’s just a great sport to get outside and be a kid, you know? They know when they have to focus and when they can goof around.”
Initially seeded third in the bracket (Ignacio was its No. 6), Paonia then lost 16-1 to dominant 1-seed Hotchkiss and finished a shaky 11-8 overall after a fifth loss in seven games.
HHS then held off 2-seed Dolores 8-7 to win the tourney title and reach the State Tournament’s regional-style Round-of-16. Again seeded second, the Bulldogs’ fortune immediately floundered in Region IV as #15 Fowler dealt them a 12-2 loss – leaving Hotchkiss a solid, but shocked 18-2 overall – Saturday, May 18, in Pueblo upon the Runyon Complex’s Hobbs Field.
Still seeking the ultimate prize, FHS (14-9) will next return to the Steel City to face 3-seed Rye (23-1) in the Final Four on Saturday, May 25, with #1 Peyton (21-1) and #12 Wiggins (15-7) colliding in the second semifinal. Both contests are scheduled for 10 a.m. starts, with the winners then meeting upon Hobbs at 1 p.m. to crown a State Champion.