Published: April 18, 2014
Coronado committed mistakes and Mesa Ridge capitalized.
Because of it - and combined with Woodland Park's loss to Mitchell - the Grizzlies claimed the 4A Colorado Springs Metro League title outright.
Jake Grotelueschen routinely hit the upper-80s with his fastball, struck out 10 and scattered four hits in a complete-game effort to lead Mesa Ridge past Coronado 7-3 on Friday at Mesa Ridge.
The Grizzlies scored four unearned runs off a couple Coronado errors in the first inning to grab a 4-0 lead.
"We talk about that a lot in practice, how we make errors and other teams capitalize," said junior Logan Beatty, who went 2 for 3 with three runs scored and drove in the Grizzlies' first of four unearned runs. "So it was real good to see that we capitalized on their errors. We've been doing a real good job of that the last couple of games. It feels good to finally play good as a team."
Those four unearned runs, all coming with two outs, were the difference in the game.
"We've got a great lineup all the way up through the lineup," Mesa Ridge coach Cory Monroe said. "Our guys took advantage. Jake hit a ball that was probably an error on their infield and we put up a four spot. We took a lot of advantage of that."
The Grizzlies (12-3 overall, 5-0 4A CSML) hadn't beaten the Cougars since the Cougars moved down to Class 4A in 2011.
While those unearned runs proved valuable late, it was Grotelueschen's pitching that was the difference early.
The senior was perfect through the first four innings. He struck out five of the first nine batters he faced.
While he slowed down in the fifth and sixth innings - surrendering one run in the fifth, two in the sixth - he bared down to strike out the last two batters of the game, stranding a leadoff runner at first.
"I was mixing in my fastball and changeup mostly, mixing in the curveball once in a while," said Grotelueschen, who reportedly topped out at 89 mph on the radar gun. "I felt really good today."
Grotelueschen also got a little help from his friends, namely center fielder Joey Craig, who made an over-the-shoulder running catch in dead center field. The catch temporarily saved at least one run and helped the Grizzlies get out of the inning earlier than if the ball had dropped.
"The center fielder made just a great high school catch," Coronado coach Ryan Sheets said. "Different ball game right there (if he doesn't make the catch).
Any rally attempt from Coronado (4-9, 3-1) fell short. When the Cougars scored in the fifth to cut the gap to 6-1, the Grizzlies answered with a run in the bottom half.
And when Coronado scored two more in the top of the sixth, Grotelueschen halted it by forcing Coronado cleanup hitter Emilio Martinez to ground out with a runner on third.
"He has a pretty good fastball, ... he had a pretty good, decent changeup, too," said Coronado's Joey Busemeyer, who drove in two with a triple to right-center. "He works ahead in the count a lot."
The Grizzlies equaled last year's win total with their 12th Friday.
"We can make it deep in playoffs if we hit like we can," Grotelueschen said. "And if our pitchers throw strikes, get out of the inning fast, our bats will handle it."