DENVER — D’Evelyn’s baseball team didn’t wilt in the near 100-degree heat Monday afternoon.
The Jaguars remained hot on the diamond grabbing their fourth win over the last five games. More importantly, the 9-2 victory over Falcon on D’Evelyn’s home field punched the Jaguars’ ticket to the Class 4A double-elimination state tournament that begins Friday, June 18, in Pueblo.
“It’s huge. We have never been really good since I’ve been here,” said Matt Hatch, D’Evelyn’s lone senior on the squad this spring. “It’s amazing to do this good, especially with how young we are.”
No. 8-seeded D’Evelyn (12-4 record) faced a strong No. 9 Falcon (13-2) squad that was trying to carry over momentum from a 3-hour marathon 12-9 victory over Erie just to reach the Region 8 title game.
“Obviously we had an advantage today. Falcon had to play a 3-hour game before in this heat and had to throw its No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers,” D’Evelyn coach Dan Porreco said. “We were sitting good, but we came out and attacked right away. That kind of melted them away a little bit.”
D’Evelyn scored the first run thanks to a 2-out rally in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Troy Benko ripped a double into the gap and senior Matt Hatch followed it up with a double to drive in the first run.
Benko and Hatch led the way offensively combining to go 5-for-6 from the plate with a pair of walking while driving in four runs. The Jaguars scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 6-0 lead.
“We haven’t been able to do that most of the season,” Hatch said about D’Evelyn adding on to its lead by scoring in every inning except the bottom of the sixth. “Starting to get those bats going in the playoffs is huge.”
Benko was just as impressive on the mound. The junior gave up just a pair of unearned runs while allowing four hits through six innings. Junior Blake Reini took over on the hill in the final inning to get the last three outs.
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been before a game,” Benko admitted. “Once you get that first out it just seems like a normal game.”
It’s the first trip back to the state tournament for D’Evelyn since 2015.
“We haven’t been back (to state) in five or six years,” Porreco said. “It’s a good feeling, especially with such a young group.”
The Jaguars started four juniors and four sophomores against Falcon. D’Evelyn will be short-handed pitching wise heading to Pueblo. Sophomores Tate Aurich and Gabe Jackson were involved in a car accident a few weeks ago and both are out for the remainder of the year.
“We are going to go down to Pueblo and try to enjoy it,” Porreco said. “We are missing our No. 1 pitcher (Tate Aurich), but we’ll play the game — catch, throw and hit.”
D’Evelyn doesn’t what to change its approach that has been successful this year. The Jaguars begin the state tournament with a 9:30 a.m. game Friday, June 18, at Hobbs Field at the Runyon Complex against Severance (14-4). The Sliver Knights upset No. 1 Durango in the Region 1 title game Monday.
“It’s just another day at the office,” Hatch said of the Jaguars approach heading to Pueblo. “We don’t want to overthink it.”