3A Region 1 Playoffs
Round of 32: #1 Lamar 11, #32 DSST Stapleton 0 (5 inn.)
The Lamar Savage baseball team took the field as hosts of a 3A regional playoff bracket for the 12th year in a row on Saturday. The last few have resulted in heart-stopping regional finals, and in 2018, the theme of excitement did not waver.
Lamar had no trouble in the opening game against the Denver School of Science & Technology of Stapleton, winning 11-0 in five innings. The Savages struck for eight runs in the first inning, knocking out Stapleton ace Chris Gomez after he had only recorded one out. A double from Davin Jacobs plus singles from Andres Guevara and Dalton Chandler put Lamar up 3-0. A bases-loaded walk to Austin Sneller made it 4-0. RBI singles from Lucas Watson and Jacobs sandwiched around another bases-loaded walk, this time to Max Carere gave the Savages an 8-0 lead.
In the second, Addison Morales tripled and came on an RBI from Eberhardt to make it 9-0. An error plated two more runs in the third and it was more than enough to win.
Jacobs got the start and threw three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Jaime Vasquez and Kevin Pearson each fired a scoreless frame to end the game early on the ten-run mercy rule.
Jacobs was 3 for 3 and drove in three runs. Guevara collected a pair of hits to help pace the Savage offense.
Round of 16: #1 Lamar 8, #16 Jefferson Academy 7 (8 inn.)
The box score above looks rather strange doesn’t it? Well, strange doesn’t even begin to describe the regional final as the Savages were up against the wall right from the get-go, falling behind 7-0 after a half-inning, only to come back and walk off in extras, doing it in eight innings just as they did in a regional final against Sterling last season.
Colton Eberhardt started on the mound, and he simply was not able to throw strikes. At one point, six consecutive Jefferson Academy Jaguars reached base. Runs were forced in on two walks and a hit batter. It was 3-0 with one out when a pitching change was made and Lucas Watson came on to get the last two outs. But he allowed two hits and ultimately four more runs came in to score and before the Savages came up to bat, trailed by seven runs.
The talented and experienced boys of Lamar had a lofty task in front of them. In the bottom of the first, Andres Guevara reached on an error to score Max Carere to make it 7-1. Dalton Chandler popped a single to center, scoring Davin Jacobs. It was 7-2 after one inning, and the Savages needed to hold the Jaguars right where they were.
The man to do it was Chandler. He came on the second and he just did the job like he has done all season, utilizing the 90+ mph fastball plus a good dose of breaking balls, all of which kept Jefferson Academy quiet.
The Lamar offense came up with three runs in the third. Jacobs and Chandler doubled to make it 7-3. An error scored Guevara and balk called on Jaguar pitcher Elian Soto plated Chandler and the Savages drew to within 7-5.
Single runs in the fourth and fifth innings tied the contest at 7-all. The game tying play won’t be forgotten for a long time. With two outs and Eberhardt at second base, pinch hitter Elijah Zavala on an 0-2 pitch, swung and just a got piece of the ball which rolled down the first base line. Soto fielded the ball, but lobbed the throw to first which briefly took first baseman Damion Nelson’s foot off of the bag. At that exact moment, Zavala reached the base and in the midst of mania after the call of “SAFE!” was made, Eberhardt had rounded third and stormed down the line to score. Zavala’s hustle to first along with the defensive miscue brought Lamar back even again.
Along with Chandler continuing to stymie the Jaguar bats, Jefferson Academy relief pitcher Vinny Scarato came on an held the the Savages quiet through regulation and the game went to the eighth still all square.
Chandler walked Pearson Gardner to start the inning, but got two strikeouts and a fielder’s choice to keep the game tied.
The top of the Savage order came up in the bottom of the eighth. And they wasted no time making something happen as Watson doubled to left-center to lead it off. Later with one out and runners at first and third, the Jaguars chose to intentionally walk Guevara to load the bases. Up came Chandler, who had thrown seven more hitless and scoreless innings to help put his team in a position to win down the stretch, and he lifted a fly ball into left-center which dropped, scoring Watson and ending the game. Dalton rounded second base with arms up in jubilation and he led the mob of happy Savages down the left field line, and they celebrated an 8-7 win to advance to the 3A State Tournament.
While so many Savages deserve a ton of credit for their contributions in the comeback, it was Chandler who delivered in such a way that it will leave Savage Nation forever cherishing his final appearance as a player at Merchants Park. He recorded 15 strikeouts and issued only three walks, firing 69 of his 103 pitches for strikes.
The Savage offense finished with 12 hits and were helped along thanks to seven errors committed by the Jaguars.
Lamar has equaled their win total from 2017, improving to 20-1. The Savages will face Lutheran in the first round of the state tournament. The Lions, as the #24 overall seed, won the Bennett regional by eliminating La Junta 9-7 and the host Bennett Tigers 7-0. The CHSAA will release full details of the tournament in the coming days.