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LITTLETON — There are always bumps and stumbles along the road to a conference championship.
Chatfield baseball, ranked No. 8 in the final CHSAANow.com Class 5A baseball poll, seemed destined to hold a 7-0 record in the Class 5A Jeffco League heading into the conference tournament that began May 1. However, blowing a 9-2 lead against Dakota Ridge the pervious week and eventually losing 13-9 put the Chargers winning the conference title in jeopardy.
“We were definitely shaking it off still at the start of this game,” Chatfield senior Kasey Koppelmaa said referring to a slow start against Bear Creek on Tuesday, May 1.
The Chargers (12-7, 7-3 in 5A Jeffco League) turned it around thanks to a solo home run by Koppelmaa and 3-run blast by sophomore Jared Olson in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 7-7 tie.
“That guy (Olson) puts every pound of his 120-pound body into that baseball,” Koppelmaa said of the sophomore who got the start at catcher. “I was shocked, everyone was, but that’s his second home run of the year.”
Chatfield went on to win 11-8 on its home field. Freshman Logan Carlisle made is varsity debut on the mound and recorded the final three outs. The win moved the Chargers into the semifinals of the conference tournament. However, Chatfield stumbled against Lakewood and Dakota Ridge in the Chargers’ final two games of the league tournament.
Despite the losses, Chatfield still finished tied with Ralston Valley (14-5, 7-3) for the league title and the head-to-head victory over the Mustangs earlier in the season allowed the Chargers to host a regional tournament Saturday, May 12.
“We just want to come out, compete and put ourselves in a good position at the end of the season,” Chatfield coach Daniel Medina said of his Chargers. “We know we’re are going to see quality opponents in this (Jeffco) tournament and that will prepare us for the show (playoffs).”
Junior John Cullom played a huge role in the comeback victory over Bear Creek. Cullom belted a 2-run home run to get the Chargers out of their offensive funk after falling behind 4-0. Cullom then took the hill in the top of the fourth inning after Bear Creek roughed up Koppelmaa for seven runs.
Bear Creek (8-10-1, 3-7) took an advantage of a handful of Charger errors in the first three innings to take a 7-3 lead through three innings.
“Coach Chamberlain (Chatfield pitching coach Larry Chamberlain) told me yesterday that I would be a factor in our pitching,” Cullom said. “He told me to get up there and I stepped up.”
Cullom pitched three scoreless innings. Chatfield’s offense put four runs on the board in the fourth and sixth inning to take the Chargers’ first lead of the game.
“These kids just wait for their number to get called and they go out and execute,” Medina said. “We credit that toward aggressive practices and being prepared before we get here.”
All three games in the 5A Jeffco League Tournament counted toward the league standings.
Bear Creek needed to win both of its consolation Jeffco tournament games to have a chance to make the 32-team postseason field. The Bears lost to Columbine 11-1 on May 4 before closing out their season with a 7-6 win over Pomona.
“You see the RPI and you constantly become a slave of the RPI,” Bear Creek coach Sean Hoorelbeke said. “At the end of the day all you can do is come out and play.”
Bear Creek was 38th in the RPI standings as of Sunday, May 6. It appears that Chatfield, Ralston Valley, Lakewood, Columbine and Dakota Ridge will represent the 5A Jeffco League in the postseason.
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist for Jeffco Public Schools, with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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