GREELEY -- In the end, that potent Holy Family machine was just too powerful.
The Tigers won their last Class 3A state title Saturday with an 8-2 victory over Eaton.
Holy Family will move up to the 4A classification next season. The title was the Tigers’ second consecutive and third in five years.
Despite the final score, Eaton didn’t make it easy on Holy Family.
The Tigers (24-1) handed Eaton its only loss of the season a week before in the playoffs and entered the game as the tournament’s only unbeaten, meaning Eaton had to defeat them twice to win the title.
Holy Family scored twice in the top of the third inning. Eaton answered with a run of its own, then tied the game on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth.
That’s when Holy Family, with a potent battling lineup from top to bottom, went to work.
“We told them to ride the wave,” Tigers coach Erik Nakayama said of surviving the shifts in momentum.
“We just said, 'One pitch at a time, one hit at a time,'” Tigers No. 3 hitter Devlin Granberg said.
With one out, Matt Erb singled up the middle. A throwing error on a ground ball to try and force Erb went awry. Austin Brown then walked to load the bases.
That set the table for Granberg, who singled home two runs. Zach Trombley, Zach Dedin and Jake Tinnon followed with RBI hits and Holy Family had quickly scored six runs in the inning.
That left it in the hands of Brown, the Tigers’ junior starting pitcher.
Brown, who threw a complete game, gave up just three hits, although he walked six, including two in the bottom of the seventh.
“I was trying to be a bit too careful,” he said.
Brown said he wanted the ball in his hands to start the title game.
“I think all of us are competitive,” he said of the team mentality of wanting that pressure in a title game.
Granberg expected a tough battle from the Reds.
“I thought it would be a grind,” he said. “We showed how much heart we have.”
As for moving up a classification next year, on top of losing 11 seniors to graduation, Holy Family is ready for the challenge.
“We’re all excited about the opportunity to go against 4A competition,” Brown said.
Nakayama said because of the high amount of seniors on the team, several underclassmen who would have normally played at the varsity level were forced to play JV this season.
“We challenged them,” he said.
That challenge will again be issued next February at the start of spring practice. Then again, the players know what is expected of them.
“The legacy’s been set,” Nakayama said.