Scouting state baseball playoffs: Five teams still remain in the hunt for a state championship

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Photo - Graphic by Derek Kuhn, The Gazette
Graphic by Derek Kuhn, The Gazette

CLASS 5A

No. 2 Pine Creek

Game data: No. 7 Rock Canyon (11-10) vs. No. 2 Pine Creek (19-2) … Friday, 12:30 p.m. at Metro State

Scouting report: Last weekend Pine Creek extended its winning streak to 14 games thanks to its Region 7 triumph.

Since starting its streak in early April, the Eagles have outscored opponents 178-14, including a 13-3, five-inning win over ThunderRidge in the regional championship.

While Pine Creek all but breezed through the second half of the season and its region tournament, Rock Canyon had a more difficult journey.

The Jaguars, who lost three of four in the final games of the regular season, battled into the 13th inning in its Region 8 opener, and won a narrow 5-4 game in the title game against Cherry Creek.

This weekend Pine Creek earned state tournament berth thanks to a host of big hitters, as five different batters knocked in two or more runs in the Region 7 title game. Jay Onken also flexed his muscle on the mound, striking out 12 batters through five innings against ThunderRidge.

With three pitchers boasting an ERA below 1 and a combined 18-1 record, Pine Creek’s bullpen is in fine shape.

At the plate the team bats a combined .406, with its top five hitters batting at least .435, with no fewer than 11 RBIs.

Rock Canyon’s top batter Wyatt Wendell bats .397 with 19 RBIs on the year, followed closely by Nick Merone, who has 17 RBIs and a .383 average. Both have two home runs on the year.

Wendell is also one of the Jaguars' top pitchers with a 3-2 record and a 2.12 ERA.

CLASS 4A

No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain

Game data: No. 5 Evergreen (15-6) vs. No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain (15-6) … Friday, 12:30 p.m. at All-Star Park

Scouting report: Two teams with near-identical stats will make for an interesting 4A round 1 matchup as Cheyenne Mountain takes on Evergreen.

Both teams lost their final series of the regular season to go on and win their respective regional tournaments, but Cheyenne Mountain battled a little harder last weekend.

The Indians took a narrow 2-1 win over Mead, and turned a double-play for the final outs in a 3-2 victory over Fort Morgan in the title game.

Evergreen, however, put up 13 runs each in both of its games in the Region 4 tournament.

As a team, Cheyenne Mountain bats .350, whereas Evergreen’s team batting average is .345. The Indians have a .438 on-base percentage - the Cougars .449. Evergreen is led by Ben Muscatello with a .439 average, while Cheyenne Mountain’s top hitter is Aaron Berkhoff, who bats .433.

The biggest difference between the first-round foes is scoring. Evergreen averages just over nine runs per game, and has 161 RBIs this season, while Cheyenne Mountain averages seven runs per game with 122 RBIs.

Muscatello is also the Cougars' top pitcher with six wins and a 2.15 ERA. Cheyenne Mountain’s ace is sophomore Michael Ellis, who also has six wins and a 2.44 ERA.

CLASS 2A

No. 1 Peyton

Game data: No. 16 Haxtun (11-8) vs. No. 1 Peyton (19-1) … Friday at 9 a.m. at Hobbs Field

Scouting report: Peyton’s 15-game winning streak has been a relatively easy road. But a nine-inning win in its regular-season finale, and a tight 6-5 win over ECA in the District 8 title game, may have put things into perspective for the Panthers as the road to a state championship is bound to have a few bumps.

Led by Jaeden Meyers, Peyton has a solid lineup of seven batters with 10 or more RBIs, hitting at least .377. Meyers leads the team hitting .559 and has 23 RBIs. Rupert Shaw has 27 RBIs.

Meyers also has three wins on the mound and a team-best .52 ERA through nine appearances. Rodney Gregg, however, is the Panthers’ ace with eight wins and an outstanding 1.45 ERA. He has 100 strikeouts through 219 batters faced.

But Haxtun has an ace in its pocket as well, with Drew Coffin on the mound. Coffin is ranked second in 2A with 107 strikeouts through 57.2 innings. He is 4-1 for the Fightin’ Bulldogs and has a 1.09 ERA.

As a team, Haxton hits .226, led by Joe Gerk, who hits .333 with 14 RBIs. Coffin is also one of the team’s top hitters with a .306 average and two home runs.

No. 8 Evangelical Christian

Game data: No. 9 Sargent (17-4) vs. No. 8 ECA (13-7) … Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Hobbs Field

Scouting report: ECA is fresh off its biggest weekend of the year as the Eagles defeated Calhan to take control of the season series, and nearly upset No. 1 Peyton in the District 8 finals.

But ECA has a new challenge this weekend as it takes on Sargent, which won its district tournament by outscoring opponents 36-8 in the two-game bracket.

Jacob Deacon is the Farmers’ biggest threat at the plate, hitting .559 with 35 RBIs and the team’s only home runs of the year. Next in line is Frankie Torrez, who hits .406 and has knocked in 23 runs.

ECA and Sargent have similar talents at the plate, batting .338 and .376, respectively. But ECA has an edge on the basepaths as one of 2A’s top baserunning teams with 120 stolen bases on the year.

Daniel Perry leads the Eagles, hitting .429 with 23 RBIs, followed by Cameron Rawlings, who hits .380 with 13 RBIs. Rawlings is the team’s top baserunner with 27 stolen bases.

Daniel Perry leads the Eagles on the mound with a 2.71 ERA and 58 strikeouts through 49 innings pitched. Andrew DeReuiter is also effective on the mound with 41 Ks through 25 innings. He has a 2.52 ERA through 14 appearances.

Sargent has a solid pair of pitchers in Trevor Milne and Ryan Davis, who each have seven wins and a 1.36 and 2.84 ERA, respectively.

No. 11 Calhan

Game data: No. 11 Calhan (13-6) vs. No. 6 Limon (14-5)… Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Andenuccio Field.

Scouting report: Calhan will face a familiar foe in Round 1 of the 2A tournament, and will look for redemption against No. 6 Limon.

Last time Calhan met the Badgers, Limon claimed a 12-2 win, thanks in part to an eight-run first inning, which knocked the Bulldogs on their heels.

In that late-March matchup, Calhan allowed eight unearned runs, while Limon tossed a one-hitter.

The Bulldogs will need to limit the Badgers strong batting order, with seven batters who have 10 or more RBIs on the year, hitting .354 as a team.

Cannan Bennett is the team’s top pitcher with a 2.41 ERA and five wins. Caid Smith is 3-0 on the mound with the team’s best ERA of .95.

Brayden Dillingham leads Calhan with a .340 batting average and 15 RBIs. He also has four of the Bulldogs’ five home runs on the year. Joe Hayes is second on the team hitting .316 with 14 RBIs.

At 6-2 Eddie Glaser is the team’s go-to man on the mound. He has a 3.36 ERA and 61 strikeouts through 50 innings.