LAKEWOOD — The task was tall for the Valor Christian baseball team: defeat Pueblo West twice to claim the school's first baseball title.
Sunday at All-Star Park, the goal came to fruition for the Eagles, who claimed the Class 4A state baseball championship with two resounding victories.
Valor Christian (22-4), once-beaten in the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament, had to get past unbeaten Pueblo West twice.
The Eagles did just that, winning 8-1 and 9-6 to add more hardware to the school's ever-growing trophy case.
They received a sterling performance from freshman right-hander Davis Heller in the first game, forcing a second and final game.
And that's where Valor Christian showed its resiliency. The Eagles rallied from 4-0 and 5-4 deficits with late-inning heroics.
It was the second time in four years Pueblo West (21-6) finished as the runners-up.
Levi Walters went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the way for Valor in the second game.
The Eagles trailed 4-0 after three innings and 5-4 after five. Each time, they came back, taking the lead for good with a two-run sixth and adding three insurance runs in the seventh.
"Being down 4-0 isn't a situation you want to be in," Walters said. "We just trust in each other that anyone can get the job done. We have confidence in everybody. Sticking to Valor baseball is how we did it."
"Our guys were fighting," Valor coach Keith Wahl said. "We were down four and we kept scraping and battling. We wanted to get them back one by one. We talked at the beginning of the year about being gritty, free, high-achieving followers of Christ. And that's what we exemplified today."
Pueblo West coach Dan Sanchez tried to find words after losing in the championship game again.
"We started out that first game really tentative, pretty nervous," Pueblo West coach Stan Sanchez said. "That second game we made some mistakes you can't make that were crucial. The beat us, outhit us."
Pueblo West jumped on Valor starter Luke McNary for three runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI infield single from Josh Drury and a two-run single by Dauson Tate. It added another run in the third for a 4-0 lead before Valor tied the game with a four-spot in the fourth, sending 10 batters to the plate and stringing together five hits.
"To me these are the best two teams in 4A and (Pueblo West) deserves a ton of credit," Wahl said. "They are going to get one, they deserve it."
The Eagles forced a second game against the unbeaten Cyclones with a 7-1 win earlier Sunday. Heller handcuffed Pueblo West with a solid performance. He pitched into the seventh, allowing one run on four hits, striking out five and walking three.
Sean Rooney broke up a scoreless game in the fourth with a two-out single into left field, driving in Blake Donels, who had walked and was sacrificed to second by Luke Ziegler. Following a walk to Walters, both runners moved up on an RJ Dabovich wild pitch and Luke Bozarth made it hurt with a two-out, two-run single into center field.
Valor Christian added four more in the sixth for a 7-0 cushion.
Pueblo West's lone run came on a seventh-inning solo home run by Alan Garcia.