LITTLETON — Dakota Ridge senior Gavin Kaiser did a little late-afternoon shopping in at the gap on April 26.
The Eagles’ clean-up hitter drove an RBI double into the right-center gap in the bottom of the eighth inning to score junior Josh Ezell from second base. Kaiser’s clutch 2-out, 2-strike double gave Dakota Ridge a walk-off 4-3 victory in extra innings against Arvada West.
“That is what we want. Good 2-striking hitting,” Dakota Ridge coach Jeff Legault said after the big Class 5A Jeffco League home win for the Eagles. “He did the same thing when he hit the 2-run home run. He has been our guy.”
Kaiser belted a 2-run home run over the fence in right center in the bottom of the third inning that gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
“In both of those at-bats I got a fastball over the plate,” Kaiser said. “I was able to put a perfect swing on them.”
Sophomore Cade Collins started the scoring in the 3-run third inning for Dakota Ridge (9-8, 4-1 in 5A Jeffco). Collins laced an RBI triple down the first base line to score junior Brady Hoos. Kaiser drove in Collins two batters later with his second home run of the season.
“That was a poorly played game on our part,” Legault admitted. “We didn’t have our bats and we didn’t have complete focus today, but good teams find a way to win and we are a confident team right now.”
Dakota Ridge batters struck out 13 times, but the pitching tandem of starter Connor Doolittle and reliever Jack Libby were able to limit A-West to just three runs on seven hits. Doolittle went five innings, giving up all three runs in the top of the fourth inning.
A-West freshman Jordan Hamblin and senior Zach Quimby drove in runs for the Wildcats (12-7, 3-3) in the fourth where A-West tied thing up 3-3.
Libby took the mound in the sixth inning and gave up just one hit. A-West threatened in the top of the eighth inning, but senior Jaxon Gray was tagged out at the plate trying to score after a wide throw to third base from the outfield.
Libby struck out Hamblin to end the threat and give Dakota Ridge the opportunity for the walk-off win in the bottom half of the inning.
“Jack (Libby) has had to step up and he has. He did against Columbine and then threw well again today,” Legault said. “I’m pleased with him.”
A-West got a quality start from junior Tobey Cassino and junior Tucker Deal had six strikeouts in his three innings in relief before giving up the game-winning double by Kaiser.
“It’s Jeffco League and we know it’s going to be crazy every single game,” Legault said. “Every single team is in the mix and it’s a battle every single game.”
Dakota Ridge grabbed another 1-run victory April 30 with a big 5-4 win over Valor Christian. The league title could come down to the final day of conference play when rival Chatfield (8-9-1, 4-1) host Dakota Ridge at noon Saturday, May 7.
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.