Split gives TCA league title, top seed in tourney; Manitou 3A playoff berth

By: BRENT W. NEW preps@gazette.com
April 26, 2014 Updated: April 26, 2014 at 7:29 pm
photo - TCA's Peter Troupe makes a diving catch during Saturday's doubleheader split against Manitou Springs. Courtesy photo by Robert Warren.
TCA's Peter Troupe makes a diving catch during Saturday's doubleheader split against Manitou Springs. Courtesy photo by Robert Warren. 

Manitou Springs stole Game 1, but The Classical Academy collected itself and responded with a dominant performance in Game 2 to win the 3A Tri-Peaks West championship.

On a double-steal attempt in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lucas Culver dragged out a pickle play between first and second base long enough to allow Billy Ryan to slip through the cracks and go from second to home to give the Mustangs a wild 3-2 walk-off win in the first of two games at Manitou Mustangs Field.

The Titans, who had a 2-1 lead before the sixth inning in the Game 1 loss Saturday, were stunned as they watched their 19-game winning streak in league play vanish.

"We have a lot of character on this team," said Titans coach Justin Ross, who was boiling over after the loss. "I think (I) lost my cool too much (after the loss) with some of the kids not having their heads in the game, and I think (the coaches) made some mistakes in that loss."

Matt King and Kyle Jacobs ensured the damage wouldn't go any further for the Titans in Game 2. King gave up just one run in seven strong innings and Jacobs blasted a three-run home run to help TCA clinch the title with a 6-1 win in Game 2.

King, who stands 4-0 with a sub-2 ERA this season, stranded six runners on base and struck another six from the mound, while Jacobs revved up the offense in the first inning and took the second pitch he saw from Ryan and sent it well over the chain-link fence.

"I had just fouled off the first pitch, which didn't allow either of our runners to move up. So I was a little upset," Jacobs said.

"But then (Ryan) threw me a fastball, and I just put a good swing on it."

TCA's baseball program won eight of its past nine and grabbed a No. 1 seed in the Tri-Peaks Tournament for the second year in a row.

"These kids are an amazing bunch and they're happy about this, but the bigger goal are still ahead of them," said Ross, who admitted he was surprised his team didn't celebrate a little more after the win. "We want to win in crossover and win in the playoffs."

Manitou Springs, meanwhile, ensured itself the two seed in the league tournament and a spot in the 3A playoffs with the Game 1 win.

In it, sophomore Travis Struble mixed up a three-pitch arsenal beautifully and gave up three hits, walked nobody and struck out five in seven innings.

"He was great for us. He has been all season," Manitou Springs coach Cory Archuleta said.

"We're happy about getting the two seed and a spot in the playoffs. And now, like I told the guys after, it's a whole new season."

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