Regis Jesuit is the team to beat as the Raiders enter the final four portion of the double-elimination Class 5A state baseball tournament with an unbeaten record.
The Raiders (23-5) are assured of playing for the state championship after Regis shut out Grandview 3-0 in a game matching undefeated teams on May 25 at All-City Stadium in Denver.
Defending state champion Mountain Vista and Cherry Creek will join Grandview as once-beaten teams advancing to the final four.
Mountain Vista (23-5), which battled back through the loser's bracket to win the state title last year, will face Regis on May 31 while Cherry Creek (21-7) will challenge Centennial League rival Grandview (19-9) in the second game at All-City Stadium.
The tourney will continue June 1 and Regis would have to lose twice before one of the other teams could win the state championship.
“It is the first step,” said Regis coach Matt Darr. “When you win the first three games, most of the time you've got a better shot of winning the title. It is hard to come back. With our pitching and depth we've got a shot anyways but this helps.
“The teams that are left, obviously Grandview has been playing really well. Creek is Creek and Vista is very good. They will not go down easy. Trust me.”
In previous games earlier this season, Vista beat Regis 5-1 in a game on April 30. Cherry Creek downed Grandview 8-4 and 13-9 in league games on April 6 and April 9.
Regis, which beat Chaparral 7-0 on May 24 and then topped Creek 6-3, ended a 16-game win streak by Grandview as junior right-hander Jacob Thompsen allowed only three hits in six innings and Alex Willis pitched a hitless seventh inning of relief.
Grandview loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth innings but Thompsen delivered big pitches to work out of trouble. He induced a ground ball, second baseman Mike Padilla tagged the runner going to second and got a double play to end the fourth frame. Thompsen got an infield popup to escape unscathed in the fifth.
“We were up three and I just knew if I made my pitch we'd be fine,” said Thompsen, who pitched a shutout win over Chatfield in the May 18 regional finals. “I let my defense work behind me. We'll be back next weekend. We'll hit the ball a little better and we'll be hungry to get two more wins.”
Grandview advanced to the May 25 game against Regis with a 4-1 win over Legacy and a 7-6 triumph over Mountain Vista thanks to a two-run top of the seventh inning homer by Josh Hojnoswki.
Vista advanced to its third straight final four with a 9-0 win over Chaparral on May 25. Clay Burke hurled a two-hit shutout as the Golden Eagles jumped to a 6-0 lead after two innings, sparked by Drew Stahl's second lead-off solo homer in two days.
Cherry Creek notched a dramatic 8-7 win over Rocky Mountain on May 25 to advance to the semifinals.
Rocky Mountain took a 7-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth when Creek started its comeback. The Bruins trailed 7-5 going into the bottom of the seventh.
Nathan Mitchell's two-run triple tied the game and after two walks, Ben Perla's suicide squeeze bunt scored Mitchell to win the game.
Last season's 5A state runner-up Heritage was undefeated heading into the 2018 final four but was eliminated this season after a 6-1 loss to Chaparral on May 25. Preston Tenney yielded just one earned run in 6 2/3 innings to gain the victory for the Wolverines.
In the Class 3A state tournament in Greeley, Lutheran will be one of the once-beaten teams trying to dethrone defending state champion University in the final four.
The Lions lost, 9-7, to University on May 25 in the game between unbeaten teams. The Lions will play perennial power Eaton on May 31 in an elimination game at Butch Butler Field.
University, which suffered its only loss in 27 games this season to Eaton, scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to come from behind to defeat the Lions (16-10).
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