PUEBLO — With two outs in the top of the seventh inning Tanner Fulkerson was wiping tears from his eyes.
With good reason.
A short pop up to the catcher Max McClellan sealed it for the Dawson Mustangs, who beat Limon 13-4 Sunday to claim the Class 2A state baseball championship.
Fulkerson, a senior, was the winning pitcher of record for Dawson and when the championship appeared to be within reach, his emotions started getting the better of him.
"With one out to go I almost started crying, it's sad that it's coming to an end," he said. "I was wiping the tears away and I was expecting the ball. I didn't know if I was going to get a ground ball and probably make an error for the last play of my high school career."
But that never happened.
Instead, he saw McClellan accept the ball into his mitt and the players began the celebration. It is the first baseball championship in school history.
It seemed to be the Mustangs' day early as they put up seven runs in the second to give Fulkerson plenty of support on the mound. As the rally continued, the Limon fielders appeared out of sorts defensively as they committed two errors in the inning.
After a short rain delay in the fourth inning, the Mustangs continued their offensive onslaught, adding four more runs to pad the already significant lead.
"(The delay) was a little frustrating," Luke Feigal said. "But in the end, I don't think it made a huge difference."
While Feigal struggled at the plate on the day, he was instrumental with his work on the mound. He threw a complete game in the semifinals, helping Dawson advance to the title game. He allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out three in a 6-1 win over Sedgwick County.
"Obviously there are some nerves for anything that big," he said. "I think a little bit of nerves is a good thing because it means you care. We just know we're there for each other."
Limon reached the title game via a thrilling 4-2 win over No. 1 Paonia in the semifinals. Down 2-1, the Badgers scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to fend off a team that many viewed as the favorite in the tournament.
But they could not repeat that magic in the championship game. Limon only registered seven hits in the game and at times, just could not figure out Fulkerson through six innings or Feigal in the seventh.
"They're our one-two punch," Mustangs coach Joe McKenzie said. "All season long, when we've needed them to throw in big games, they've come through. You saw it today. We had a few pitches left with Luke and he comes in and knocks it down."
And in doing so, he helped bring a baseball crown to his school for the first time.