DENVER – Air Academy had no choice but to win the first game Saturday, and it did, thanks to a mastery of the first batter in every inning.
Kadets starting pitcher Kevin Megyeri held Broomfield’s leadoff batters to a crippling 0-for-7, then worked around several two-out jams as Air Academy won 3-2 at All City Field to force a winner-take-all 4A championship game.
A Kadets title would be the school’s fourth in the span of eight days – following wins for boys’ swimming, girls’ lacrosse and girls’ soccer – and the fifth since the girls’ basketball team romped through the 4A tournament in March.
Top-seeded Air Academy (23-3) built a 3-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single from the red-hot Kevin Kimbrow (who is batting .500 in the postseason with 15 RBIs in seven games) and a two-run double from Curtis Butler.
Butler went 2-for-2, added a stolen base and reached safely a third time after being hit by a pitch. Kimbrow also had two hits and a steal for the Kadets, who outhit Broomfield 8-4.
Though the second-seeded Eagles (21-5) put runners on base in each of the final six innings and had at least two aboard on four occasions, Megyeri helped himself by making sure threats started late in innings and then pitched his best in tight spots.
Megyeri, a senior who will play for CSU-Pueblo next year, retired the first four batters in two-on situations – three on strikeouts – and didn’t allow Broomfield to break through until a two-run sixth inning.
Maybe these trends were the result of the urgency Air Academy felt by needing a win in the first game to stay alive, maybe it was coincidence. Either way, the second game is coming.
Broomfield had not lost in the double-elimination tournament, so it had the luxury of losing the first game without fear of being knocked out. The second game, which will start around 3 p.m., will determine the state champion.
Air Academy won the toss and will be the home team. Kadets coach Bernie Moncallo plans to start Billy Shatraw (2-1, 5.15 ERA) and has all pitchers but Megyeri and Kevin Giordano available. Broomfield is expected to go with Brandon Bailey and his 92-plus mph fastball. However, Bailey threw 2 1/3 innings on Friday and may need to be watched closely considering his velocity and short rest.