PUEBLO — In two pitches, Ponderosa first baseman Dom Lopez had the best start to the Class 4A state baseball tournament of anyone that made the trip to Pueblo.
After trailing Evergreen 5-0 after just the second inning, the Mustangs had to battle back in their opening contest. They did just that and kept the Cougars off the board for the remainder of the game.
On the first pitch that Lopez saw in the bottom of the seventh inning, he decided it was time to end it. He ripped the first pitch he saw to centerfield and trotted around the bases ready to jump into the celebration of his awaiting teammates at home plate.
The next pitch he saw was his first at-bat in the Mustangs’ second game of the day. He hit it to nearly the same spot beyond the centerfield wall to make it a 2-0 lead for Pondo and the Mustangs went on to beat Cheyenne Mountain 10-8 as teammate Derek Lukes followed suit with a walk-off bomb of his own.
“I really like going after the first pitch,” Lopez said. “I think it’s the best pitch you’ll get the whole at-bat so I always go for that first one, no matter what.”
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The Mustangs (17-2 overall) will get a bit of a breather before they head to Rawlings Field on the campus of CSU-Pueblo. They’ll take on Holy Family who flexed its muscles offensively with a 12-2 win over Lewis-Palmer to start the day then followed it up with a 12-3 win over D’Evelyn.
The winner of Holy Family and Ponderosa will be the lone unbeaten team in the 4A tournament heading into next weekend, which is ideal in this modified double-elimination bracket.
In the first day of a state baseball tournament in over two years, the actions between Hobbs Field and Andenucio Field at the Runyon complex couldn’t have been any different. The Tigers (17-1) showed dominance on the way to their two wins at Hobbs. In the second game of the day, Holy Family scored nine runs across three innings to take a big lead over the Jaguars. Brennan Bennett, Connor Cooney, Jared Delgado, Isaac Siefken and Jaden Delgado all scored twice through the course of the game.
D’Evelyn had taken down No. 1 Severance 11-4 earlier in the day.
The thrillers came from Andenucio. Down 5-0 to Evergreen after the first two innings, the Mustangs battled back to tie the game before Loez ended it with a solo shot in the seventh.
Cheyenne Mountain shook off any homefield advantage that Pueblo County was getting to get a 7-3 win.
Ponderosa started its game with Cheyenne Mountain off with Lopez’s second home run of the day. Cheyenne Mountain tied the game at two then pulled even 8-8 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Lopez was walked to start the inning and then Lukes just saw his pitch and blasted it to left field.
“That’s always going through my mind,” Lukes said. “After what Dom did in the first game and the momentum we had, I kind of knew what was going to happen. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win it.”
Severance will play Lewis-Palmer in an elimination game at Rawlings Field at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Evergreen and Pueblo County will follow suit at noon. The game between Ponderosa and Holy Family will go off at 7: 30 p.m. with the winner taking control of the state tournament going into championship weekend.