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Eads Baseball Takes a Tough Blow from Holly; Finishes their Season in District Championship Game

Eads knew going into Friday’s District 3 championship round that they had to win the whole thing to be able to advance to the State Regional tournament, the Elite Eight, located in Denver next week.  Last year, Eads was in the same situation having to play Cheyenne Wells in the District Championship game, and losing to the dominating Tigers.  However, last year they were not subjected to the some would say unfair RPI rules that are in place this year.  So, even though Eads lost a year ago in the championship, they still advanced to the Elite Eight round.  This year, in the same scenario, the RPI debacle ended Eads’ run after they lost in the District 3 championship game on Friday afternoon, 13-3, to Holly.  The loaded Wildcats will be the only team from the area to advance.
TJ Conaway prepares to receive the ball during a key play at the plate against Holly.  (Photo credit: WildcatPridePhoto.com)
Eads entered the District 3 championship game against Holly after they had squeaked by Springfield in the District semifinals, 3-2.  Zach Haase’s walkoff single sealed the deal for the Eagle victory and gave them a chance to challenge the Wildcats in the championship.

Eads had beaten Springfield the week before in a thriller, and, again, these two teams went neck and neck down the stretch.  Eads used freshman lefty Brigden Parker as their ace and Springfield went with Beau Dukes, a senior. 

Dukes would be chased off the mound after 6.2 innings and replaced by Gage Leathers.  However, Dukes had a heck of a day fanning 9 Eagle batters, but walking 5 and giving up 3 earned runs.  He would take the loss for Springfield.  Parker was phenomenal in perhaps his best performance of the year as the 9th grader struck out 14 batters and didn’t give up a single walk in the 24 batters he faced.  The shifty southpaw gave up just 3 hits and one earned run in the win for Eads.

Springfield got things started in the first inning when Dukes arrived on base by error and then got around to score on a dropped third strike play at first.

The Eagles got on the board once in the second inning as senior Trey McDowell started the at-bat with a strong ground ball single to center field.  Parker then crushed a shot to deep right field for a double but tried to extend to third.  He was out on the play, but that allowed McDowell to score. 

Eads would get another run in the bottom of the third inning when Zach Haase drew a walk with two outs.  That brought up TJ Conaway who singled a line drive to right field.  Haase was already stealing second and the speedy senior would round third and score on the play. 

Eads held on to a tenuous one-point lead, 2-1, through the rest of the game as Parker was a strike-out machine for most of the contest.  Finally, Springfield led off the seventh inning with a triple to left field.  Parker struck out the next two batters, but Lasley for Springfield snuck in a single to left field that scored one and tied the game 2-2.
Eads’ Brigden Parker gets a rare Eagle hit during District 3 Championship action.  (Photo credit: WildcatPridePhoto.com)
David Arnold led off for Eads in the bottom of the 7th drawing a key walk.  The next two batters would strike out at the arm of Dukes.  Zach Haase then singled on a ground ball that forced a wild throw and Arnold would score for the win.
McDowell led the way for Eads with 2 hits and one walk in his three at-bats.  Haase walked twice and then came through with the winning RBI single.

The win pitted Eads against dominate Holly who had 10-ran Eads last week in their final regular season game.  They also 10-ran Cheyenne Wells, 12-2, earlier in the day in the district semifinals.  This team has a huge amount of athletic players to choose from and a bullpen that is deep and talented.  All this very unusual for a 1A team, although next year the Wildcats will move up to the 2A ranks.

Eads got things started in the first inning when McDowell pulled a walk against ace Brandon Wilson.  Conaway then came up and reached on an error by the second baseman advancing McDowell to second base.  Parker then came to the plate and found some room in center field bringing in McDowell with a strong single.  Conaway ended up on third.  He would then score on a wild pitch while Damien Barnes was at the plate. 

While Holly enjoyed the luxury of throwing their ace Wilson, Eads went with the seniors who would team up in a duo-effort.  Haase would take the bump first working through 3.1 innings giving up 10 runs (none earned), 3 walks, and had 2 strike outs.  McDowell would work in the final inning giving up 3 runs (1 earned), walking 3, and striking out 1.  Haase would take the loss.
Senior Trey McDowell’s is congratulated by his coaches after scoring a run in Holly.  (Photo credit: WildcatPridePhoto.com)
Holly pulled away for good with five runs in the second inning when an error scored one run for Holly before Brandon Wilson hit a 2-1 pitch out of the park for a grand slam.  After that crushing shot it was difficult for Eads to get any momentum going as Wilson worked on them from the mound giving up little advantage.

Holly had 6 hits in the game including 2 from Wilson.  Eads only had three hits with Parker getting 2 singles and an RBI.  Haase had the other hit and an RBI.

Because of the RPI situation that sees Eads sitting in the 10th position with only 8 advancing to the next round, the loss to Holly ended the Eagles’ season.  They will lose two key seniors off this team that was an inspiration for Eads fans both young and old.  Trey McDowell is a four-year letterman who hit .463 on the season and led the team with 19 runs, 19 hits, 14 RBIs, and had the only home run in the season.  Zach Haase, although not as experienced as McDowell, used his superior athleticism and speed to have a break out season hitting .381 with 17 runs, 16 hits, 9 RBIs, and a phenomenal 24 stolen bases.  Perhaps the biggest contribution these seniors made to the 2018 baseball team was to step up to the plate, metaphorically, in order to lead this young, inexperienced, and short-on-numbers team to an unexpected finish.  Their leadership capacity contributed to the secure future of Eads Baseball.

Holly will enter the Regional playoffs seeded #2 and will play Caliche #7 in the first round at All-Star Park in Lakewood on Thursday at 10:00 am.  If they win, they advance to the Final 4 and play the winner of #3 Otis and #6 Longmont Christian on Thursday, as well.  Cornerstone Christian Academy is the #1 seeded team.  Stratton/Liberty, a team Eads lost to in extra innings early in the season, 9-6, is seeded in the 5 hole.
 
Photo Credit WildcatPridePhoto.com
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