COLORADO SPRINGS — The bright side of Wheat Ridge and Golden going 0-2 at the Class 4A baseball state tournament May 24 and 25 was the experience both Jeffco squads gained for the future. “We are …
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COLORADO SPRINGS — The bright side of Wheat Ridge and Golden going 0-2 at the Class 4A baseball state tournament May 24 and 25 was the experience both Jeffco squads gained for the future.
“We are going to have a chance again. We are going to reload,” Wheat Ridge coach Adam Miller said after a 3-0 loss to Cheyenne Mountain on May 25 at Vibes Stadium in Colorado Springs. “It’s a bad feeling right now, but hopefully nine months from now we’ll be right back at it.”
The 4A Jeffco League champions were in position to avoid dropping down to the loser’s bracket in a first-round game against Silver Creek on May 24 at Mountain Lion Park on the UCCS campus in Colorado Springs. The Farmers and Raptors played the closest game in the opening round of the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament.
Silver Creek escaped with a 5-4 victory in eight innings. Wheat Ridge ace Aaron Arcilise was brilliant before hitting his pitch-count limit in the eighth inning. The Raptors had a game-winning inside-the-park home run after Arcilise exited the game on a ball misplayed in the outfield.
“Ultimately yesterday really hurt us. It put us behind the eight-ball,” Coach Miller said referring to the 5-4 loss to Silver Creek in extra innings. “Credit to these kids. They continued to compete. We had chances. We just couldn’t get the big hit.”
Wheat Ridge (19-8 record) headed over to Vibes Stadium on Saturday morning for an elimination game against Cheyenne Mountain (22-6). Junior Kyle Radi got the start on the hill for the Farmers.
“I felt a little bit of pressure today, but just had to get through it,” Radi said starting on the mound in an elimination game. “I just wanted to help our team get to the next round. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
Radi had just one bad inning against Cheyenne Mountain. The Indians’ lone offensive damage was a two-out, three-run double by senior Aaron Berkhoff in the bottom of the second inning.
“I missed a pitch right down the middle and he (Berkhoff) took advantage of it,” Radi said of the bases-loaded hit by the Indians’ leadoff hitter. “I walked a few guys that inning too. It’s tough, but it happens to everyone.”
Wheat Ridge had scoring chances in the sixth and seventh innings, but ended up stranding five runners — three in scoring position — in the final two innings. Sophomore Wes Miller popped up to third base with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to end the game.
“This is a tough one to soak in, especially after yesterday where we overall felt like we were the better team,” said Wes Miller, the coach’s son who along with junior Sam Stahl were the only Farmers to have a multiple-hit day against Cheyenne Mountain. “It didn’t go our way today. We couldn’t swing the bat very well. We had chances. We just didn’t execute.”
The Farmers graduate five seniors. The biggest losses will be Arcilise — 4A Jeffco MVP — and Tate.
“Arcilise had as good of a year we’ve had maybe since Adam Doyle (Wheat Ridge pitcher who graduated in 2007). He was huge,” Coach Miller said. “Anthony (Tate) kind of anchored us on the backside (closing games) was a great centerfield for us and is such a great leader.”
Wheat Ridge does return a big part of its core that won the 4A Jeffco League going 11-1 in conference play.
“We are pretty much juniors and sophomores, so you are hoping those kids can build on it,” Coach Miller said. “Hopefully we can get the same opportunity or chance next year being a year wiser, stronger and improve. That is the whole goal.”
Coach Miller hopes to have lefty pitcher Cael Yenzer back in the mix next year. Surgery before the season prevented Yenzer from playing this spring.
“He should be,” Miller said of having lefty pitcher back. “That was a big loss for us this year, but credit to these guys. We lost probably our second best (pitcher), one of our best outfielders and hitters, but it didn’t talk about it much. We just pushed forward.”
Also pushing forward will be the Farmers’ chief rivals — Golden Demons. Golden also went 0-2 in Colorado Springs at the state tournament. The Demons suffered a 6-1 loss to Fort Morgan at Vibes Stadium on May 24 and were eliminated with a 11-6 loss to Erie on May 25 at Mountain Lions Park on May 25.
Golden is in a similar position with a lot of returning talent after a solid 18-8 season while handing Wheat Ridge its lone conference loss, a 1-0 extra-inning thriller right before the postseason.
“It’s always fun playing Golden,” Coach Miller said. “They are a lot like us. They have a lot of young guys like us. Jackie (Golden coach Jackie McBroom) does a good job. I’m sure it will be a race to the finish again.”
The Demons only graduate a handful of seniors and return one of the best all-around players in 4A in junior Ben McLaughlin. The postseason experience will motivate and inspire the Demons just as it has with the Farmers.
“We’ll take this as a learning experience and move forward,” said Wes Miller before the Farmers left Vibes Stadium. “We’ll get ready for next year.”
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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