LITTLETON — Chatfield junior Luke LaChance accomplished a rare feat on the baseball field Monday at Chatfield Senior High School.
LaChance led off the bottom of the third inning with a single and then capped off the 7-run third inning for the Chargers with a 2-run double.
“It’s a team thing. I had to have runners on. They did their job,” LaChance said of his two hits and the third inning where the Chargers brought 11 batters to the plate. “I just had to pull the rope.”
Chatfield took a 8-4 lead thanks to the huge inning and eventually hung on for a 9-7 victory over Ralston Valley, ranked No. 7 in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A baseball poll. The win gave Chatfield (11-4, 6-0 in 5A Jeffco League) a 2-game lead in the conference with four league games remaining.
“It feels good to be in the driver’s seat, but we can’t let up now,” LaChance said. “There are teams nipping and biting at us. We have to play like we are behind.”
The Chargers are riding a 6-game winning streak, but Chatfield coach Daniel Medina knows the conference title is far from being wrapped up.
“We don’t think about that,” Medina said of the 2-game cushion. “In this league you don’t get comfortable no matter if you are in first place or last place. We take it day-by-day. We got better today.”
Ralston Valley (11-4, 4-2) held a 4-1 lead thanks to a 3-run top of the third inning on the road against the Chargers. Juniors AJ Jergensen, Adam Jones and Trey Adams cranked out three consecutive hits off Chatfield starting pitcher Kasey Koppelmaa in the third. Jergensen, Jones and Adams were 11-for-14 from the plate on the day.
However, two costly Mustang errors, two walks and four Chatfield hits in the bottom half of the third quickly erased Ralston Valley’s lead.
“That game comes down to a lot of different things,” Ralston Valley coach Brad Madden said. “We blew up there in the third inning with a couple of errors and a couple of passed balls. We had plenty of chances, but Chatfield made the plays on defense and made the pitches when they needed them.”
Sophomore Jacob Roybal pitched the final two innings for Chatfield to pick up the save.
“That’s a sophomore who mixes it up well,” Medina said of Roybal. “He is a kid that kind of no one really knows about. He is one of the first guys we are going to get. He put the ball where it needed to be on that last pitch.”
Ralston Valley got things going offensively in the seventh inning with four hits and a walk to push across a pair of runs. The Mustangs had the bases loaded with two outs, but senior Niklavs Levensteins grounded out to first base to end the game.
“That was pretty big to close it out,” LaChance said of getting Levensteins to ground out with the bases loaded to end the game. “That was a scary situation.”
Ralston Valley has lost back-to-back league games, but is right back on the field tomorrow. The Mustangs are scheduled to host rival Arvada West at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 24.
“It's just one of those things,” Madden said of the Mustangs’ current 2-game losing streak after winning 10 straight. “You kind of get into a little funk. You try to make sure one loss doesn’t turn into two and two losses don’t turn into three.”
Chatfield faces Dakota Ridge at 4 p.m. tomorrow back at the Chargers’ home field.
“I’m excited to get right back at it,” Medina said.
The Jeffco League title race is far from over. All eight teams in the conference have one more league game coming up this week before the 5A Jeffco League Tournament begins Saturday, April 28. All teams will play three games in the bracketed tournament and all games will count toward the conference record.
Only the 5A Jeffco League champion receives an automatic bid to the 32-team regional playoffs. The majority of the postseason field will be determined on RPI points.