DENVER — It took a late-inning comeback win to keep Golden baseball atop the Class 4A Jeffco League standings April 29.
Golden — No. 6 in the CHSAANow.com rankings — trailed rival D’Evelyn 2-1 heading to the seventh inning, but down to their final three outs the Demons responded. Golden (13-4, 5-0 in 4A Jeffco) had a 5-run top of the seventh to grab a 6-2 victory.
“I was pretty confident we were about to do something, not to mention we had Wicks, Jaydo and Braeden coming up,” said Golden senior pitcher Laif Palmer, who was in danger of taking the loss despite giving up just two hits. “Those are our guys.”
Senior Noah Wicks singled to lead off the top of the seventh inning. Wicks advanced to second on a wild pitch to set up senior and clean-up hitter Jaydon Hord who was at the plate with no outs facing D’Evelyn ace Tate Aurich.
“It was ultimately just get Wicks to third,” Hord said of his mindset at the plate in the seventh inning. “He (Aurich) gave me a fastball. I had a line-drive approach the whole time and got ahold of it.”
Hord drove an RBI double into the gap to tie things up 2-2. It was also the final batter Aurich faced. After battling for six-plus innings Aurich was nearing his 110-pitch limit.
“Three years in a row now it’s been Laif versus Tate,” Golden coach Jackie McBroom said of the great pitching match-up for the third straight year in conference play. “They had won one and we had won one. He (Aurich) is a really good pitcher. He is my least favorite pitcher to face in our league. He just battles, battles and battles. He never gives up.”
Golden kept its foot on the gas as the Jaguars (10-8, 4-2) went to their bullpen. The Demons eventually sent 9 batters to the plate in the inning and posted five runs. Hord scored the go-head run on a wild pitch to give Golden a 3-2 lead.
Junior Jacob Dehm singled to score sophomore Luca Casali to push the lead to 4-2. Dehm would later score on another wild pitch. Senior Daine Hart doubled and would score on a sacrifice fly by junior Kohei Shimada to cap off the inning.
“My concern is we have to get those hits when we have runners in scoring position,” McBroom said of the Demons leaving 10 runs on base through six innings. “We didn’t do it early on which is frustrating. Happy that we did it late in the game and didn’t wait until the game was over. Happy with how it ended.”
Palmer ended the game in style with his 11th strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning. It’s Golden’s 10th straight victory since a loss against Falcon on April 1.
“It sets a tone for sure,” Hord said of the come-from-behind victory as the final stretch of league play begins. “It makes all the boys feel great. We feel we are the best team out here right now.”
Golden and Evergreen (12-3, 6-0) are the only remaining teams in 4A Jeffco that haven’t lost a conference game. Green Mountain (11-6, 5-1) dropped out of the league-lead with the Demons and Cougars after a 1-run loss at Conifer on Saturday.
The Demons have league games next week against Conifer and Evergreen next week. The conference game at Evergreen on Thursday, May 4, could determine the league champ.
“I want to finish out the regular season against some good baseball teams,” McBroom said. “Obviously, we have the goal of winning league, but at the end of the day I want us going into playoffs playing our best baseball.”
The Demons and Jaguars both represented 4A Jeffco in the 8-team, double-elimination state tournament last season in Colorado Springs. While Golden lost both of its state playoff games, D’Evelyn advanced to the Final 4 before getting eliminated by eventual state champion Ponderosa.
“Our pitchers have been great all year,” McBroom said. “Hopefully that continues. We kind of have things lined up (pitching rotation) and I think that works in our favor. Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates as well.”
D’Evelyn have been decimated by injuries lately and have dropped three straight games, including league losses to Evergreen and Golden. Seniors Gabe Jackson and Heath Perry produced the only two hits that Palmer gave up Saturday.
The Jaguars face Golden again in a non-league game Tuesday, May 2, before a league game Thursday, May 4, at Green Mountain.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.