Falcons flight cut short of title

Benn Farrell
Posted 5/31/12

DENVER — Delivering the unexpected is becoming commonplace for the Highlands Ranch baseball team. Just one year removed from a surprising run to …

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Falcons flight cut short of title

DENVER — Delivering the unexpected is becoming commonplace for the Highlands Ranch baseball team.
Just one year removed from a surprising run to the Class 5A final four, the Falcons returned. And, although they still failed to make it to the final day of the season, their exit wasn’t short on excitement.
Highlands Ranch, the No. 7 seed in the eight-team double-elimination tournament, faced perennial power and No. 1 seed Cherry Creek in a do-or-die game Friday morning at All-City Field.
And while the Falcons were up to the challenge, the Bruins pulled out a 3-2 victory in eight innings to end Highlands Ranch’s season.
Both teams produced seven hits against a powerful staff in both bullpens.
“Following the entire playoff series and run, the hits have been hard to come by,” Highlands Ranch coach John Cackowski said.
Cherry Creek’s Andy Heider brought in two runs in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead over Highlands Ranch. The Falcons’ Ben Hoffman came up with an RBI single to score catcher Adam Gauthier in the top of that inning. Pitching and routine fielding took over the game until the top of the sixth inning when Geordy Smith had an RBI single which popped out of the glove of a diving Heider, playing at short stop for the Bruins, allowing Tony Audino to score the tying run.
Pressure fell on Highlands Ranch senior pitcher Ryan Burr in the seventh as the game moved into extra innings.
Heider returned to help his team into the next round of the championship playoffs with an RBI single to score Cody Jenkins and end the game 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth.
“They had chances to blow it open. We had chances too, but it was just a very tight game,” Cackowski said. “I think with these games, when you have two very good teams on the field, if anything I wish I would have won the coin flip.”
In a game where pitching made the difference for both teams, Burr was more than grateful for his team supporting him with every routine out it could muster.
“In a game like this, when I didn’t have my off-speed stuff going and they were just sitting on the fast ball, your defense has to play lights out, and they did,” the Arizona State University-committed Burr said. “A couple got away and a ball bounced our way. That’s the game of baseball, and that’s the game of life for you.”
The Bruins’ mound mustered four strikeouts from Dimitri Casas in six innings and six from Mason Mostajo in two squares.
Hoffman and Connor McFadden both went 2-for-4 at the plate in what became the Falcons’ last game of the season. Burr finished with eight strikeouts in seven innings while giving up two earned runs. He was relieved in the eighth by Audino who struck out one batter and surrendered an earned run.
Being a part of two consecutive Highlands Ranch baseball teams to reach the 5A final four makes moving forward that much more difficult, Burr said.
“It’s going to be hard to move on from all these kids, coaches,” he said. “I’m so proud. Nobody thought Highlands Ranch was going to be here the past two years, but that’s what we’re all about, being a team which nobody expects anything, coming out and giving it their all.”
For the Bruins, Heider was 2-for-2 at the dish while Grant Farrell went 2-for-3. Cherry Creek went on to eliminate Regis Jesuit 9-6 the next morning and rematch with Legend for the championship game. Cherry Creek won the title 6-0 over the Titans.


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