DENVER — To win big games in May, you need big plays. And Pueblo West got two very big ones as it marched on in the Class 4A state baseball tournament.
The Cyclones went 2-0 thanks to wins over Longmont and Valor Christian on Tuesday at Metro State. It means they'll face Windsor, which also went 2-0 on Tuesday, in the unbeaten game at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at All-Star Park.
"We're going to go try to pitch our butt off, and we're gonna scrap," said Pueblo West coach Dan Sanchez. "We're gonna scrap."
Pueblo West's offense stole the show in the first game, a 12-7 win over Longmont on Tuesday afternoon. Included were five RBIs from Isaiah Avila.
The nightcap, a 3-2 win over Valor Christian, was defined by a two major moments:
In the fourth, Pueblo West shortstop Kyle Jameson made a diving catch with the bases loaded and two outs to stop a Valor Christian rally that looked like it had the makings of a big inning. The Eagles had erased a 2-0 Pueblo West lead to tie the game.
"That was a huge play," Sanchez said. "I mean, that could've opened the floodgates. He's a great athlete, and he made a couple of great plays today."
Then, in the fifth, Cyclones catcher Zach Thomas doubled home what proved to be the winning run with a shot to center field.
"I pretty much just barreled it up and did my job," Thomas said.
Added Sanchez: "He's been a big slugger for us all year. We're just happy they threw him the fastball and not the curveball. ... That was a big hit for us."
Of course, the win wouldn't have been possible without the stellar performance from Kaleb Woltz on the mound for Pueblo West. Woltz, a sophomore, threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing just the two runs and four hits. He struck out eight.
"It was a great outing for him," Sanchez said. "And they've got so many talented kids over there. It's just always a great challenge when you can even just compete against them."
Valor Christian, which beat Holy Family in the first round, is the two-time defending champion, while Pueblo West has made the state tournament each of the past two seasons. In fact, the two teams matched up in the 2016 championship game.
Valor also beat Pueblo West a year ago in the state tournament.
"This is the game we've been waiting for, we've been working for," Thomas said. "We love the competition with them. ... That was our goal during season, was to compete as if we were going to play them. Once we got tested, we performed, and we did pretty good. Can't say enough about the team."
Windsor moved on by virtue of wins over Roosevelt (2-0) and Cheyenne Mountain (11-2).
Logan Thornton threw five innings of shutout baseball for the Wizards in the opening-round win, allowing just three hits. Owen Lockner pitched the final two innings in that game, allowing just two hits.
In the second game, Windsor put up eight runs in the sixth inning, and pounded out 16 hits on the whole. That game was delayed due to lightning in the
The Wizards, seeded No. 1 in regionals, are now 22-1 this season.
Cheyenne Mountain beat Evergreen 7-3 earlier Tuesday to advance.
The tournament resumes on Wednesday with morning games at All-Star Park and Metro State.