PUEBLO — If there is a way to battle back in the seventh inning, Ponderosa is going to find it. The Mustangs trailed 5-0 after the first couple of innings before rallying back to beat Evergreen with a walk-off home run on the first day of the Class 4A baseball tournament.
They followed that win up with another walk-off blast, this one against Cheyenne Mountain to enter the second day of the tournament unbeaten.
In Saturday's marquee game, the winner of Holy Family and Ponderosa would automatically advance to the state championship series. And Holy Family looked like it wanted that advancement early as it jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Mustangs in the first inning.
But even on a different day, the Mustangs had same grit and heart that they've shown in the postseason. They scored 11 of their 14 runs in the sixth and seventh innings to get a 14-11 win over the Tigers.
"It's incredible," coach Bob Maloney said. "We have so much senior leadership. In 30 years, I've never seen anything like this. It's unmatched."
It's been quite the remarkable three-game stretch for the Mustangs (18-2 overall). Tied with Evergreen in the seventh inning on Friday, Dom Lopez blasted a walk-off home run to beat the Cougars. He hit another home run later in the day against Cheyenne Mountain which proved crucial in that win as well.
When Lopez got into the batter's box in the top of the seventh against the Tigers (18-2), the Mustangs were down two with the bases loaded and one out. He couldn't help but think of how things transpired on Friday.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," Lopez said. "But really, I just had the same mentality, just put the ball in play."
He let loose on a monster hack on a 1-2 count and for a brief moment, it looked like the ball would carry out of Hobbs Field. It landed on the warning track and Lopez ended up at second. The rest of the runners scored and for the first time in the game, Ponderosa took the lead.
Parker Dennis got hit by a pitch then Skyler Ahern ripped a ball to left-center - the same area where Lopez had hit his double two batters earlier - but with more pop.
His ball carried over the wall to make it a 14-10 game. It was Ahern's first home run of the season and it came at the best possible time.
"With this team we fight and battle," Ahern said. "It doesn't matter how much we're down. We'll always scratch a couple of runs across and keep fighting until the game is over. We have seven innings so we need to make all seven count."
That's been the mindset all weekend and the Mustangs have every intention of carrying that over.
Even with the loss, Holy Family is still in the title picture as they only have one loss in the tournament. The Tigers play Cheyenne Mountain on Friday morning with Ponderosa set to play D’Evelyn. If the Mustangs beat the Jags, they’ll have to be beaten twice on Saturday.