It wasn’t easy, but the Colorado Aces found a way to get the job done Saturday at Bill Swift Field in Loveland, Colorado.
The Colorado Springs Majestic battled tooth-and-nail with the team based out of Parker, but it just wasn’t enough as the Aces won 10-8, maintaining an unblemished 4-0 record in the 14U division of the Colorado State Championships.
“You got to hand it to the Majestic, they’re a quality club and at the end of the day those kids are going to compete,” coach Walker Rheem said. “It’s nice to see our kids rise to the occasion and get it done when we needed to.”
The Aces struck first in the bottom of the first inning with three runs to take a 3-0 lead. Eventually, the Majestic got one back in the second.
It was in the top of the third inning where things got interesting. The Majestic cut the lead to 3-2 on a triple to left field, but the Aces executed a perfect relay to throw the trail runner out at home. However, on the next at-bat, the Majestic knotted the game at three with a single.
As would be the theme throughout the contest, the Aces had an answer.
Plating four runs in the bottom half of the third, the Aces reclaimed the lead, 7-3. Catcher Beau Baldensperger put the Aces up 5-3 with an RBI single before Ryan Gunning opened the game up with a two-run, two-out double.
The Majestic would not go away, though. The team from Colorado Springs wasted no time putting traffic on the bases in the top of the fourth inning. Each of the first three runners all reached, loading them up with no outs.
After the Aces got a a force out at home, a bases clearing triple brought the Majestic within one run and shifted the momentum to its side. On the next at-bat, the Majestic completed another rally, once again with an RBI single to even the score at seven.
The Aces were able to avert some danger in the top of the fifth inning. The Majestic put the go-ahead runner on third base with one out. Then, pitcher Quinton Low induced a pop-up where the Aces’ shortstop made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch and then appeared to double up the runner on third base to end the inning.
After the umpires convened in the middle of the diamond, the call was overturned and the runner returned to third. Following a walk that put runners on the corners with two outs, Low secured the final out and ended the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Aces took the lead once-and-for all. An RBI double plated the go-ahead run. Then, Baldensperger stepped up to the plate with one runner on and two outs. He got a pitch right in his wheelhouse and crushed it over the left field fence to give the Aces a 10-7 lead.
“It was low and inside and that’s my favorite pitch to hit,” he said. “I’ve been working on my swing and inside (pitches) are one thing I’ve been really focusing on.”
He said that was the first home run he’s hit in a while.
Low sent the Majestic down in order in the sixth inning before the Aces staved off a last-chance rally in the seventh.
The Aces got received contributions from everywhere in the lineup. Its pitchers were able to limit walks and anytime they needed a clutch hit, it happened.
“Part of the Aces is executing what’s called, bunts, hit-and-runs and delayed steals,” Rheem said. “Executing plays that go along with being a team. Our pitchers threw strikes, we were aggressive at the plate and we had timely hitting. It’s interesting because towards the end of the season it’s a grind. You’ve played 60-some games and trying to keep everybody healthy, it’s a full team effort.”
The win puts the Aces in a strong position heading into championship Sunday. Sporting a 4-0 record, the Aces will earn the top seed and need just two more victories to bring home the title.