Air Academy baseball wins twice to stay alive in Class 4A state tournament

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DENVER * As soon as Silver Creek’s Cole Winn rounded for first and headed to second, Air Academy first baseman Kyle Chasse threw his hands into the air calling for the ball from the outfield.

Winn was headed safely to second. Unfortunately for him, he never touched first and Chasse noticed.

When Chasse got the ball and touched first, Winn was ruled out and any possible Raptors rally was squashed.

It was just one great play of solid baseball that saw No. 5 Air Academy beat No. 7 Silver Creek 6-3 a couple of hours after the Kadets dispatched of No. 8 Golden 6-4 in the 4A state tournament Tuesday.

The back-to-back victories have Air Academy headed to the tournament’s final weekend for the first time since 2012.

“Unbelievable,” Chasse said. “It’s really awesome to watch these guys rally, especially when we knew that was a hard hit going down and taking that loss. It was really exciting to watch everyone come back with the same energy if not even more than yesterday and be able to pull out these two wins.”

The Kadets will play No. 1 Thompson Valley on Friday at Metro State.

A day after getting two-hit and losing its playoff opener 1-0, Air Academy (19-5) pounded out 11 hits against Silver Creek and eight against the Demons (12-11).

“Much, much better,” Kadets coach Doug Goldberg said. “We had a talk yesterday about our approach. We had a much better approach and so I was very excited about the way they came out and did what they were supposed to do.”

The Kadets also got a second straight day of solid pitching. Micah Bregard gave up four runs on two hits and five walks in five innings in the opener before Nick Chiacchia closed the door. Then, Sam Cregan held Silver Creek (16-8) to one run on five hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings before giving way to Grant Shandy, who gave up two runs on four hits in 1 2/3.

“My arm just had a ton of pop in it, I was feeling great,” said Cregan, who struck out five. “Honestly, I just threw strikes.”

Chasse’s heady play of noticing Winn miss first base was an example of his knowledge for the game, Goldberg said.

“That’s one of those great plays in baseball nobody really checks on,” Goldberg said. “But he pays attention. He’s a student of the game and a very smart kid.”

Chasse also laid down a suicide squeeze in the third inning that helped the Kadets build a 3-0 lead against the Demons.

Justin Richardson reached base four times and scored twice over the course of the day, while Josh Dudden reached base in seven of his eight plate appearances (four hits, three walks), drove in a run and scored three runs.

Now, the Kadets go into Friday’s game (and possibly beyond), knowing starters James Verlinde and Bregard will again be available.

They also know they have little to lose after getting to where they believed they were destined to be.

“It feels pretty great,” Cregan said. “We knew we could do it all year. It’s just good to live up to our potential.”