They came a long way by earning victories in must-win games and were one of the three teams in contention for a Class 5A state baseball championship on the final day of the tournament but the …
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They came a long way by earning victories in must-win games and were one of the three teams in contention for a Class 5A state baseball championship on the final day of the tournament but the Mountain Range team’s bid for a state ended May 25 with a loss 14-4 to eventual state champ Mountain Vista.
“We have had a heck of a season. We ran into a buzz saw today and, as they have all season, they refused to quit and kept battling. That has been the mark of this team all season,” Mustangs Coach D.J. Yeager said after the game. “. “The loss today doesn’t change the fact that we won a bunch of elimination games to get this far. I feel the secret to the success this season is that this team is a group of guys who believed in each other and work together to win games.”
Mountain Vista got things going early in the May 25 game as they scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, establishing a lead they never relinquished. The Golden Eagles padded their advantage with four runs in the top of the third inning and then added seven runs in the top of the fourth inning to assure the win.
The Mustangs continued to battle hard and found the range with their bats in the bottom of the final inning as they collected key hits to push runs across the plate. Mike Polson drilled a double with teammates on base to drive in a pair of runs and teammates Justin Hoffman and Demarques Ortega each drove in a run for Mountain Range.
“Mountain Vista is a good team and they built a lead we couldn’t overcome,” the coach said. “This also is a team that would never say die even when our backs were against the wall. That was the case during the tournament and even today. The guys should be very proud of what they have accomplished. This is a special season and the best state baseball performance in school history. “
The Mustangs finished the regular season 16-4 overall and in fourth place in the Front Range League with an 8-4 record.
Mountain Range came into the state tournament as the No. 6 seed in the eight-team tournament. The Mustangs lost in the opening game of the double-elimination Class 5A state tournament to Heritage, 7-0 which meant the Mustang faced must-win games to remain in contention for the state title.
They responded with a 4-0 win over Rock Canyon, beat Cherokee Trail 6-4 and shut out Arapahoe 1-0. In that game, Braden Brooks threw a one-hitter for the Mustangs and retired the final two batters with runners on first and second. The victory earned Mountain Range the spot as one of the final three teams in the tournament. The title bid ended May 25 in the game against Mountain Vista.
“We played hard against Mountain Vista but they barreled more balls than we did,” Coach Yeager said. “Give them a lot of credit. They are a very good baseball team. We didn’t win today but we never quit trying and I am proud of the guys for that.”
He said his six seniors will graduate in June.
“Our seniors have been great leaders this season and they will be missed,” he said. “However, I expect all the other guys to be back next season, we have a talented junior varsity team so I believe that Mountain Range will continue to have strong, competitive baseball teams in future seasons.”
Junior shortstop Angelo Domenico is one of the players who have plans to return to the Mustangs next season.
“I played shortstop when I was younger and I played shortstop for our summer team and fell in love with the position,” he said. “It is a position where you get a lot of action make some good plays and show off your arm strength.”
At the plate, he hit .305 this season, had 15 hits that included six doubles. He drove in 11 runs and stole five bases.
He said he is always working to improve his defensive skills and got some advice during the summer that helped him at the plate.
“This is one of my best seasons with the bat,” the junior said. “I feel that is because I put in a lot of work with my cousin who plays Class AA baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He helped me with my stance and focusing on picking good pitches to hit. It has been a lot of fun playing with this team and I think we will remain strong and I expect we will be back in the state playoffs again next year.”
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