Snow impacts state championship preparation
Last week was arguably Peyton’s biggest week of practice of the season as the Panthers prepared for Saturday’s state semifinals, and eventual state championship game.
But Mother Nature had other plans for the Panthers’ practice schedule.
The late spring snowstorm derailed Peyton’s baseball practice, keeping the Panthers inside for most of the week.
“We practiced indoors Monday, didn’t have school on Tuesday because of snow, and we practiced Thursday and Friday in the snow,” Peyton coach Kelly Nickell said.
Peyton knocked the rust off early in the first game of the doubleheader, claiming a 4-1 win over Wiggins in the state semifinals, and then clinching the state championship 3-0 against Fowler.
“This whole last week was crazy,” said senior Rupert Shaw. “We had 16 inches of snow on our field so we knew we couldn’t practice, but we still gave it our all when we were practicing inside, and when we finally got outside yesterday we knew we would take it to them today.”
Another Meyers down the line
Jaeden Meyers had an immeasurable impact on the Peyton baseball program the last two years. But there’s another Meyers coming down the line that Nickell believes could be even better.
“Little Brennen Meyers is just a sophomore, but I believe he could be better than all of them by the time he graduates,” Nickell said, comparing Meyers to starting pitchers Rodney Gregg, Rupert Shaw and Jaeden Meyers.
Peyton punches ticket to second straight 2A title game
PUEBLO — Peyton baseball is headed back to the Class 2A state championship.
A 4-1 semifinal win over No. 12 Wiggins punched Peyton’s ticket to its second straight title game, offering an opportunity for redemption.
After falling in a 7-4 loss in the title game last year, the Panthers, who returned most of their starters from a year ago, had one goal all season — to get back to the state championship game.
“There was pressure to get back,” said Nickell. “We just wanted to be in this game.”
Peyton went on to play No. 15 Fowler in the title game at Runyon Sports Complex. Fowler defeated No. 3 Rye 4-2 in the semifinal.
Rye is responsible for Peyton’s only loss on the season, and while Nickell said some of his players were looking forward to a rematch against Rye, his team is just happy to be playing another game — regardless of opponent.
Peyton played Fowler in late March, defeating the Grizzlies 13-0 in five innings, but despite the regular-season matchup, Nickell anticipates a different game for the state championship.
“I came and watched them last week and they hit the ball all over the place. They have good pitching, they make plays and they’re a totally different team than what we saw at the end of March,” Nickell said.
Peyton fell into a one-run hole early in the semifinal game against Wiggins, but senior Rodney Gregg locked down on the mound, throwing five shutout innings, and knocking in the eventual game-winning runs in the top of the third.
Trevor Walker singled, followed by a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases for Peyton’s best hitters. Jaeden Meyers brought Walker home, followed by high pop fly hit by Gregg that was dropped in center to bring two more runners home.
AJ Lashley had an RBI in the top of the seventh to score Josh Gonzales to give Peyton a three-run cushion heading into the final half inning.
"A couple of the younger guys early in that game were a little nervous but for the most part my seniors and a couple of my sophomores who were here last yer looked good and they were ready,” Nickell said. “We made some great plays, but Rod got it done on the hill.”
Gregg finished with six strikeouts, allowed five hits and one earned run in his complete-game outing.