Updated: May 13, 2013 at 10:52 am
In 37 minutes Sunday, T.J. Stainbrook retired all six batters he faced and Canon City scored four runs to knock out district host Air Academy 12-3 and send the Tigers back to the 4A state baseball tournament for the second straight year.
Then, the senior got his real treat.
'We're going out to lunch since it's my birthday; that's a great birthday gift, ' said the righthander, who recorded the final out Saturday before darkness set in at the end of the fifth inning. 'Being postponed, we were thinking our momentum would be shut down. Anything can happen, but we fought through it. I just had to relax and throw strikes. '
At state, Canon City (13-8) will meet Durango (11-10) at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Lakewood's All-Star Park. The teams have split the last two, with Canon City eliminating the Demons in last season's district final, while Durango knocked off the Tigers in the season opener.
Ahead 8-3 with two runners on with none out at the time of the suspension Saturday, Canon City nearly broke the game open first thing Sunday. Michael Kear sacrificed the runners up a base, but sophomore Kadets pitcher Noah McConnell escaped damage with a strikeout and ground ball to short.
'It just wasn't meant to be, ' said Air Academy coach Bernie Moncallo, who led his team to the 4A state tournament the past two years. 'We couldn't get a baserunner, and I give credit to their pitcher. I didn't think the lead was insurmountable. '
Moncallo and the Kadets found that out the hard way on Thursday, blowing an early 5-0 lead against Palmer Ridge, then losing 8-6 after allowing three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Canon City added four runs in the seventh, the last three the result of Kadets miscues after reliever Zachary Pape walked in a run.
With the bases loaded and none out, Michael Brownlee scored after Air Academy catcher Trevor Goldberg dropped a throw from first baseman Clark Brown on an attempted force out. One out later, two runs scored on a potential double-play grounder that could have ended the inning but Brown couldn't handle the throw from second.
'We were all pumped to get a second chance, because we're a team that's come back before, ' said Kadets centerfielder Luke Yeager, who plans on studying pre-med while playing baseball in college at Cal Lutheran. 'We had it done to us, and we knew what had to be done. State is a great experience, and I wish them the best of luck. '