Delta's Panthers had an uneasy beginning to its baseball season losing five of the first eight games played, including losses to 2A powerhouse Paonia, 4A Erie, 5A Montrose, and a double header event against 4A Roosevelt. Since those first eight games the Panthers have lost once (to Paonia) in the last 13 games.
A pair of wins last weekend boosted Delta's overall record to 15-6 and vaulted the Panthers into the Class 3A state tournament for the second time in the last three season.
Delta hosted the Region 7 tournament last weekend and swirled past Centauri's Falcons 22-4 in first-game action.
Colorado Academy's Mustangs rolled over Platte Valley 10-0 in their opening round game and earned the right to face Delta in the Region 7 title game. The Panthers clawed their way to a 4-0 lead after one inning in the title game and never looked back. "We need to get on the board first against these guys," noted assistant coach Paul Shean prior to the start of the title game they did just that with doubles from freshman Nolan Bynum and junior Rowyn Carmichael. Junior Kolby Keller added a single to score Rowyn Carmichael and senior Dylan Hollenbeck to end Delta's scoring in the first inning. Bynum's double drove in senior Jaspar Carmichael who had been walked and Rowyn Carmichael's double scored Bynum ahead of Kolby's two-run single.
Delta allowed five runs over the final four innings to claim 12-5 decision and earn a berth in this year's 3A State Baseball Tournament.
Delta 22, Centauri 4
After finding out one of their own teammates was diagnosed with a B-cell lymphoma earlier in the week the Panthers had more than enough motivation to play with a purpose. Utility player Clayton Abila had been in Denver at the Children's Hospital in the middle of the week and had begun treatments for his lymphoma. That didn't keep Abila from wanting to be at home to help his teammates battle for a berth in this year's state 3A baseball championships. He was in the dugout for both games on Saturday and his presence definitely made a difference.
Delta hit three home runs in its opening contest against Centauri. The Falcons started their day with three straight singles to load the bases and scored runs on sacrifice fly-outs from Marting Garcia and Cimmaron Mestas.
Delta countered with three runs of its own. Jaspar Carmichael started the inning with a double to right centerfield and Rowyn Carmichael reached base on a single and Josh Reeder loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch (the first of four straight for Reeder in the game). Hollenbeck connected on a one-and-one pitch for a double to score both Carmichaels to tie the game at 2-2. Reeder later scored on a passed ball to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead going to the second inning.
Delta held the Falcons scoreless in the second inning before going on a six-run explosion in its half of the inning. The Panthers started the six-run rally with one out on a Matt Easter double to left field. Jaspar Carmichael was walked to bring up freshman Nolan Bynum.
Bynum, who had popped up to the catcher in his first at bat in the first inning, unloaded on 3-1 pitch for his first home run of his career to left field. On his way around the bases, Bynum gestured toward the team dugout to acknowledge his home run was for Abila.
Delta's rally continued with Rowyn Carmichael's single, Reeder's second time being hit by a pitch and Trevor Myers' single. A Hollenbeck sacrifice fly to left field plated Rowyn Carmichael and a Keller blast to left centerfield scored Reeder and Myers. Keller, who had tried to stretch his double into a triple was thrown out for the third Panther out. As Keller came off the field he grinned and commented to the dugout, "I thought I was faster than that," bringing a chorus of laughter from both the dugout and third-baseline fans.
Centauri tacked on two more runs in the top of the third on an error and two singles.
The Panthers doubled their score with nine runs on six hits, including two doubles and a Rowyn Carmichael home run (who also gestured to the dugout signaling his home run was for Abila). Delta sent 14 batters to the plate in the huge inning.
Reeder took care of the Falcons single-handedly in the top of the fourth frame with three straight put-outs on ground balls at third base.
Delta scored four times in the bottom of the fourth with junior John Holgate entering the game for Keller and hitting a single to left field to score Skyler Kraai (the courtesy runner for catcher Trevor Myers).
The highlight for the inning, however, was KC Carlson's towering home run to left field that scored Hollenbeck, Holgate and Carlson himself. The Carlson dinger was the first of his career and he beamed with excitement as he took coach Steve Reiher's congratulatory handshake coming around third base.
Delta's 22-4 lead held up in the top of the fifth with a three-up-and-three-down inning.
Rowyn Carmichael had three hits, scored three times, had a double and a home run and drove in three runs for the Panthers. Jaspar Carmichael also had three hits, scored three times and had two doubles in the game.
Bynum was the Panthers' big RBI-guy with four runs knocked in on two hits (a double and a home run) and four RBIs. Carlson was 1-4 with a home run and three RBIs and Keller had two hits, a double and a pair of RBIs.
Tristen Crowther had two hits for the Falcons and Cimmaron Mestes had one hit and three RBIs.
Drake Horn was the winning pitcher for Delta.
Delta 12, CA 5
Colorado Academy came into last Saturday's Region 7 baseball tournament with the top record in the field (16-3). When the final out was made Delta was the Region 7 champion and had secured a berth in next week's Class 3A baseball state tournament.
The Mustangs were held to a double in the first inning without scoring a run.
Delta lit up the scoreboard with four runs in its half of the inning. Jaspar Carmichael drew a walk to start things off. A passed ball advanced Carmichael to second and Bynum laced a double to center field to score Carmichael. Rowyn Carmichael traded places with Bynum with a double to left-center field for another run.
With two outs Hollenbeck was hit by a pitch giving the Panthers runners on second and third. Keller drove in Rowyn Carmichael and Hollenbeck on an 0-2 pitch with a single to make the score 4-0 after one inning.
Jaspar Carmichael struck out the side in the top of the second and Delta continued its offensive run with a double from Easter to start the bottom of the inning.
The Mustangs chose to switch pitchers and brought in Graham Osman to replace starting pitcher Sam Richards.
Osman, facing his first batter, had a one and two count on Jaspar Carmichael and watched him send the ball out of the park on the next pitch making the score 6-0.
Delta added another run in the third after Hollenbeck reached base on an error and scored when Keller's ground ball to second base was booted allowing Hollenbeck to score.
Colorado Academy's Ari Fierer hammered a double to left field to start the fourth inning and scored later off a single from Walker Hamilton to make the score 7-1.
Delta scored four times in the fourth, including a run by Reeder who had reached base after being hit for the fifth time in two games on Saturday. A double from Myers scored Jaspar Carmichael, Bynum and Reeder. Myers scored on a wild pitch and made the score 11-1.
Delta was hoping to close the game out in the fifth inning but had to extend the game after giving up a pair of runs with the help of a walk and an error. The Panthers got their fifth home run of the day when Easter destroyed an 0-2 pitch that landed over the left field fence for a 12-3 Panther lead.
Jaspar Carmichael finished the sixth inning with his 11th and 12th strikeouts sandwiched around a fly ball to center field.
Hollenbeck came on in the top of the seventh and gave up a home run to Emmett Ela for two runs to make the final score 12-5.
Jaspar Carmichael had a hit (home run), scored three times and had two RBIs. Bynum was 3-4, scored twice, had a double and drove in one run.
Easter's day included two hits, scored twice with a home run and an RBI. Keller and Myers finished the day with two RBIs each.
Jaspar Carmichael picked up his fourth win of the season against one loss for the Panthers. He worked six innings, gave up seven hits and three runs and struck out 12 batters.
Ela was Colorado Academy's leading hitter with a three-for-four day with a home run and two RBIs. Fierer had two hits and Hamilton had a hit and an RBI for the Mustangs.