Valor defends Class 4A baseball title

By Tom Munds
Posted 5/29/17

Valor Christian won three games in three days, capping the run on May 28 by outscoring Evergreen 7-3 in the weather-delayed Class 4A state baseball championship game at the Regency Athletic Complex …

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Valor defends Class 4A baseball title

Posted

Valor Christian won three games in three days, capping the run on May 28 by outscoring Evergreen 7-3 in the weather-delayed Class 4A state baseball championship game at the Regency Athletic Complex on the Metropolitan State University of Denver campus.

"This is a great team with 21 guys who have been with us since the start of the playoffs, which gives us a lot of depth," Eagles coach Brian Bonn said. "I feel Valor has a great legacy. We are not all about winning. Rather I am very proud of the Christian commitment, the way they work in the weight room, on the practice field and in our games, and I am so proud of all the people who have been in the stands supporting us all year long."

He said the quality depth of the pitching staff was a key to the team repeating as state champion.

"Pitching depth was a question mark at the start of the season," he said. "But guys stepped up and we had six guys we could count on to pitch quality innings for us any time we called on them. There is no question that our pitchers took care of business all season long. They threw well and our guys provided run support, which was the formula that enabled us to have a great season and win another title."

Key moments

The Eagles went down in order in the first inning but then sent nine players to the plate in the top of the second inning as they parlayed seven hits, including three doubles, to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Valor starting pitcher Zach Reid blanked the Cougars for four innings but Evergreen pushed two runs across the plate in the home half of the fifth inning to cut the Eagles' lead to 5-2.

Evergreen was able to score one run off the combined relief-pitching efforts of Ethan Zemla and Justin Estes, who each pitched one inning. Valor padded its lead as it scored a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh as Noah Kuzma and Joel Pierce each hit an RBI double.

Key players/statistics

In the championship game, a trio of Eagles, Brady Buehler, Kuzma and Austin Howell, each drove in two runs and Pierce drove in one run. Kuzma and Pierce each had a pair of doubles.

Starting pitcher Reid threw five innings and gave up five hits, two runs, walked four and struck out two. Zemla pitched the sixth inning and gave up a run but didn't give up a hit. He walked one and struck out one. Estes pitched the final inning and gave up no runs, no hits, walked one and struck out one.

He said it

"The last three days has been a wild ride. I love and believe in my teammate bothers and we fought our way through," Pierce, a senior first baseman, said. "We knew if we came out and did our thing we would be OK. We did that and we won the state title."

Looking back

The Eagles took the same path to their second title as they did last year by coming through the loser's bracket to win the championship.

In 2016, Valor lost early in the double-elimination format then came back to earn a spot in the finals. Last year, the Eagles had to beat formerly unbeaten Pueblo West to win the title.

This year, the Eagles lost a game but then won three must-win games in a row. The first game was a 7-0 win over Air Academy. In that contest, junior Luke Ziegler pitched six shutout innings, gave up three hits, walked three and struck out five. He also had three hits and drove in three runs.

On May 27, Valor posted a come-from behind 8-5 win over Thompson Valley. The Eagles trailed 5-3 but tied the score in the top of the sixth then scored three runs in the top of the seventh to post the win. Kuzma had a two-run homer in that game.

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