Published: May 17, 2014
LAKEWOOD - In a topsy-turvy game in which Palmer Ridge lost a five-run edge and fell behind in the final inning, the Bears' rally fell short in a 17-15 playoff loss to Longmont that ended their season.
Palmer Ridge (16-8) led 13-8 after four innings Saturday and still held a 13-12 lead heading into the seventh before Longmont (16-8) scored five runs to grab a 17-13 lead.
The Bears started the bottom of the seventh with three hits, and got a sacrifice to score their second run of the inning but that was the last of the offense in a high-scoring contest in the double-elimination Class 4A tournament.
Palmer Ridge actually 5-0 before scoring three times in the second, four times in the third and six times in the fourth to move out to the 13-8 edge. Longmont took over from there.
Bears coach Steve Whiting said they were confident of their pitching coming into the matchup despite playing two games the day before. Costly mistakes in the later innings were the difference.
"Those last couple innings, having those defensive breakdowns, you just can't do that against teams like this," Whiting said. "We just didn't have it today."
In the bottom of the second, Palmer Ridge loaded the bases on two occasions. Bears' senior Billy Schulze and junior Cole Hurford each came up with RBI singles.
In the third, Palmer Ridge junior starting pitcher Kurt Larson hit a two-run single to knot things up. A couple of sacrifices later and the Bears led 7-5.
"Overall, I think we hit really well," Larson said. "We scored a lot of runs. What we would do differently next time is focus on correcting our walks and errors."
Larson, who went 3 for 5 including two doubles, said he struggled in the first two innings and walked too many batters, which turned into runs.
After Longmont got a three-RBI shot to the center-field fence by Andrew Baldt to grab the lead at 8-7, the Bears answered with six runs in the fourth, including an RBI double by Jake Grubesic and a two-run single by Jack Stamper.
Longmont narrowed the lead to 13-12 with four runs in the fifth before the lone scoreless inning in the sixth.
The Trojans got RBIs by Will Amen and Kyler Leroux to grab a 17-13 edge in the seventh.
A triple by Carter Thorne, a single by Jake Weems and double by Larson gave the Bears hope in the bottom of the seventh but the rally fizzled.
Whiting is excited for next year, though.
"We've gotten closer every year," the coach said. "The overall big arena experience will be good for our younger players next year. We were one game away from the final four. We gave it our best shot. It was a hit-a-thon for both teams."