U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Clutch performances from the plate and from the gloves provided Falcon with a 6-5 win over Air Academy on Thursday.
In the seventh inning, the Falcons held a 5-3 lead and the Air Academy bats were beginning to come alive. The Falcons (4-4 overall, 1-3 Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) had kept the Kadets scoreless until the fifth inning and as the game progressed, Falcon knew it couldn't slow down offensively. That’s when Conner Kessler came up big for his team.
“I came up to the plate and was expecting a fastball and I knew I needed a hit,” Kessler said. “That was my first home run ever, so I was really excited.”
Not only was the home run a big moment for him, but Kessler’s bomb proved to be the difference maker as Class 4A No. 8 Air Academy (3-6, 3-1) came out and got two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Those runs would have tied the game if not for Kessler’s bomb.
The bats weren’t the only winning factor though, as right fielder Aaron Torres chipped in defensively, throwing out two runners. The last runner was rounding third base and headed home for the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Torres launched a dagger that stopped him in his tracks and ended the game.
“I just remembered what I’ve done in practice and I trusted my arm and hoped for the best,” Torres said. “I’m just glad my catcher caught the ball and made me look good.”
Micah Bregard started the game for Air Academy and pitched five innings and allowed five runs with eight strikeouts. Bo Powers came in to relieve Bregard and gave up one run and struck out two batters.
“This was a great team victory today,” Falcon coach Dana Reichers said. “It showed the resilience of our kids and their will to overcome adversity, especially since we didn’t play well against them earlier this week.”
Sellers started on the mound for Falcon and pitched 4 and 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs with four strikeouts. This is Sellers' second start of the season since transitioning from a relief pitcher. Kessler was brought in for relief and allowed only three hits and two runs and also struck out four batters.
“Kody Sellers was lights out tonight,” Reichers said. “This is the second game in a row where he was unhittable the first five innings and he is a warrior who goes and battles every game.”
It was an important win for Falcon since it avenged a loss to the Kadets from earlier in the week. It was also the first league win of the year.
“This win is very important for our team,” Torres said. “Air Academy is a great team and their pitcher did great, so this win gives a start and hopefully will carry us throughout the season.”
Air Academy will host Vista Ridge and Falcon will host Cheyenne Mountain next Tuesday.