COLORADO SPRINGS — Pueblo West coach Dan Sanchez knows the burden of getting to the second weekend of the Class 4A state baseball tournament as the one unbeaten team.
Luckily for him, Silver Creek coach Brad Steward had no problem taking that burden on this year. Thanks to a walk-off RBI hit from Tanner Regan, Silver Creek got a 6-5 win over the Cyclones and heading into next week's Final 4, it'll be the Raptors sitting in the driving seat.
"This is no different then it would be if we were in any other place," Steward said. "We still have to go out and play our baseball. We can't look past anybody because it's anybody's game. We'll go back to work on Monday and fix the minor mistakes we made this weekend."
There's not a whole of mistakes to point out for the Raptors (26-2 overall) over the course of two days. They got things rolling early at UC Health Park as Justin Swenson ripped a 2-RBI double to left field which scored Michael Wegleitner and Spencer Rich.
Regan then went to work on the mound and cruised through the first two innings before getting into trouble. He walked Dylan Gist and gave up a triple to Tyler Declusin. Jayden Cordova then ripped a ball to shortstop Cam Hassert, who mishandled it and allowed Declusin to score and tie the game.
Cordova scored on an RBI single from Brodie Blackford.
But Regan wasn't going to let himself get rattled. He settled in and held the Cyclones (25-3) scoreless for the next two innings.
"I always feel comfortable on the mound," Regan said. "I have a great group of guys behind me who can make the plays and I don't have to do it on my own. I feel comfortable throwing the ball over the plate."
Meanwhile, Regan and the Raptors got back to work at the plate. Charlie Jackson drove in a pair of runs on a single and Wegelitner scored Alex Rich on a single of his own.
The Cyclones tied the game in the sixth inning but couldn't push a go-ahead run across the plate.
In the bottom of the seventh, Wegleitner singled to start off the inning. A push bunt from Rich put runners on first and second with nobody out. Two batters later, the runners moved over on a wild pitch from Dalton Davis and it was Regan who drove in the winning run with a hard hit ball through the infield gap on the left side.
The Raptors haven't lost to a Colorado team all year and now they're just two wins away from claiming the program's first baseball title.
"We have to keep working hard and play for each other," Regan said. "We have to know that it's a faceless opponent in the the other dugout."
For the Cyclones, they now advance to the second weekend with their backs against the wall. In their two previous attempts as the undefeated team, the haven't walked away with a state title. Sanchez is hoping that going this route - though not intentionally - will yield a different result.
"I think it could, absolutely," he said. "There are different ways to look at it and it was always a dilemma. Who do you pitch and all that. Now we have to win every game so that doesn't matter."
The Cyclones will take on Holy Family on Friday in an elimination game. The winners will get their crack at a state title. All games next week will be played at UC Health Field, the home of the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
Fort Morgan, Holy Family still alive
In a win or go home game, Fort Morgan scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to beat Cheyenne Mountain 8-4.
Connor Fajardo went 3-for-3 with three RBI's in the win.
Holy Family also advanced to next week after a 13-2 win over Erie at UCCS.