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Eads catcher Shaine Winder tries to get the tag at home on Stratton’s Bex Seaman. It was a great play, but Seaman was able to kick ball loose as Winder was not in a position to cover up the ball.
Diane K. Brown

Eads Eagles Are District 4 Champions: Will Host Region 3 on Saturday

By Betsy Barnett

May 10, 2024

The Eads Eagles continued to march through their successful baseball season despite not being able to field a team a year ago. On Saturday, May 4, Eads (#2) secured the 1A District 4 Championship by first defeating (#3) Holly, 11-1, in the semifinals contest. With that win, they secured a berth into next week’s 1A Regional Baseball Tournament. Eads then took on Stratton (#1) in the title game on Saturday and grabbed the district championship in a 13-5 win over the top-seeded Eagles. With the win over Stratton, Eads revenged a 3-1 loss in the regular season on April 19th.

It would be a fifth inning spurt that landed Eads the semifinal win over Holly in Las Animas at the 1A District 4 Final Four tournament. Eads would score eight runs in that fifth inning on their way to an 11-1 victory.

Senior Wildcat ace Andre Salgado took the mound to begin the contest and Eads jumped on the right-hander for 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning. With one out on the field Porter Spady drew a walk, and Case Nelson followed him to the base paths with a walk of his own. Johnny Vasquez, who had a tremendous day at the plate for Eads, hit a towering fly ball over the right fielder’s head that scored Spady and put Nelson on third base.

With two outs, Eads rallied for two more runs in the bottom of the first inning. With Nelson and Vasquez on the corners, Spencer Uhland drew a walk and juiced the bases for freshman third baseman Aydn Hough. The youngster pounded out a line drive through the gap in right field bringing both Nelson and Vasquez home.

After that first inning, where Eads jumped on the scoreboard first with three runs, both pitchers settled in nicely and held off the scoring opportunities. For Eads it was junior southpaw Case Nelson on the bump controlling a powerful Holly Wildcat offense.

Going into the top of the fourth inning, the Eagles led Holly, 3-0, when the Wildcats finally manufactured a run on Nelson. With two outs and Devin Eaton on first base with a walk, Dylan Tomayo got the only hit of the day off of Nelson with a line drive single to right field. The hit moved Eaton to third base. Eaton would end up scoring on a passed ball at the plate right before the Wildcat batter committed the third out.

Eads failed to score in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Nelson and the Eagles held off the Wildcats in their at bat in the top of the fifth inning with the score still tilted toward Eads, 3-1.

That’s when the Eads bats finally busted things open. After walking the first Eads batter, Keenan Smith, Salgado would have to call it a day as he came up against the pitching limits. That brought on to the mound the first baseman Devin Eaton who came in with Smith aboard and no outs.

Spencer Uhland was up first against Eaton and pounded out a hard ground ball to second where Uhland arrived on the error and Smith was safe at second base. Adyn Hough then hit into a fielder’s choice where Smith was caught at third base.

With runners at first and second and one out Karsten Buller pulled a walk to load up the base paths. Coach Kyle Barnett then brought in Jayson Bletzacker to the plate and the freshman was hit by the pitch bringing Uhland home. With bases loaded and two outs on the field, Porter Spady was also hit by the pitch brining home Adyn Hough.

Case Nelson then pounded out a double with bases loaded on a line drive to center field scoring Buller from third base and Stockton Mitchek, who had re-entered for Bletzacker, from second base.

Johnny Vasquez then came to the plate with two outs and two birds on the pond and sent a rocket over the center fielder’s head scoring both Spady and Nelson.

Eads wasn’t quite done yet, as they continued to do damage with two outs. Holly brought their third pitcher of the day, Rueben Maldonado to the hill. Maldonado promptly hit Smith with the pitch who joined Vasquez on the base paths.

With the score sitting at 9-1 and two outs on the field, Eads had the winning runs out on the bases and just needed a catalyst to bring them home for the win. That catalyst came in the form of Spencer Uhland who blasted a deep line drive double to center field scoring both Vasquez and Smith for the 10-run mercy rule win, 11-1.

Nelson had a beautiful game on the mound for Eads as the junior southpaw went the distance in five innings of work allowing just one hit, one run, walked two and struck out 9 Wildcats. Even more important than that for Eads, Nelson did his work efficiently enough that he still had 32 pitches left on his pitch count for the day.

Those 32 pitches factored greatly into how Eads managed to close the door on Stratton in the title game.

For Holly it would be Dylan Tomayo who got the only hit off Nelson going one-for-two on the day.

Eads amassed 10 hits in the contest. Vasquez was the power in the middle of the line up with three runs batted in. The sophomore went 2-for-4 against the Wildcats.

Adyn Hough, in the 7-hole, showed the depth of Eads’ lineup, by leading the team with three hits in three at bats.

Porter Spady collected two hits in two at bats, had one RBI, and walked once.

Brentley Lening, Nelson, and Uhland rounded out the hitting for the Eagles.

After a short 35-minute break, the Eads Eagles were back on the diamond against the top team in the conference, Stratton, who brought a sparkling perfect league record to Las Animas.

Eads opted to go with the freshman Adyn Hough on the hill and the Stratton had their ace in Bex Seaman as they got by Wiley 7-4 by resting Seamon. Seaman beat Eads 3-1 just three weeks ago.

Seaman would mow down the first three Eads batters in the top of the first inning and then attacked Eads’ freshman pitcher as he led off for Stratton in the bottom of the first inning with a triple. An error later and Seaman had Stratton on the board first. Hough walked the next two batters to juice the bases and then gave up a single in center field that scored one and moved the other two Stratton baserunners into scoring position.

Stratton would collect four runs in the first inning, but Hough managed to stay in control and struck out three batters at the bottom of the order.

With Eads down 4-0 going into the second inning, things looked grim for the Purple & Gold. But Vasquez attacked with a single to center field, Smith got hit by the pitch, and Uhland singled to centerfield bringing Vasquez home. Eads was on the board and all of sudden things were not as grim as they had appeared to be.

Hough kept things moving along when he loaded up the bases by pulling a walk on Seaman. One of the biggest hits of the game came next as Karsten Buller hit a blooper over the first baseman out to right field with the bases loaded scoring Smith. That little hit seemed to open the flood gates and Eads was off to the races.

With one out and bases loaded, Lening pulled a walk bringing home Uhland. Spady then pulled a walk with the bases still juiced scoring Hough. Seaman then walked Nelson, the no. 3 batter, bringing home another run to Buller.

Vasquez then came back to the plate and plunged an absolute dagger in the heart of the Stratton team with a tremendous double shot to the 390-foot fence in left field clearing the bases with Lening, Spady, and Nelson all coming home.

Vasquez’ double chased Seaman off the mound as Stratton elected to go with Dawson Thompson with Eads leading 8-4 in the middle of the second inning.

Smith drew a walk from Thompson, but the new pitcher got a strike out and two away on the next batter. With Vasquez on third and Smith on second base, Hough joined them loading the base paths once again for the Eagles.

Buller then singled up the middle bringing Vasquez home. With the bases still loaded, Mitchek singled on a ground ball to right field scoring Smith. Lening then picked on the Stratton right fielder with another shot in his direction with bases loaded scoring Hough for the 11th run of the inning.

After that unbelievable second inning for Eads, the two teams settled in and held each other’s offense off for three innings until Stratton squeaked in a run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

With two outs on the field Hough ran out of pitches and Coach Barnett put his ace Case Nelson back on the mound with just 32 pitches left to get the job done. Stratton had runners on the corners when Thompson, on first, broke for second base. Nelson elected to go for the final out putting Thompson in a hot box but gave up a run to Charlie Tagtmeyer from third base.

With the score, 11-5 Eads came to the plate in the top of the seventh inning for their final at-bat. Spady pulled a walk to start the inning and Nelson followed Spady to the base paths with another walk. During Vasquez’ at-bat, Spady scored on a passed ball. Vasquez grounded out to third but moved Nelson over to third base in scoring position.

With one out, Smith walked to put runners on the corners. Uhland then hit a towering fly ball to right field that was dropped scoring Nelson from third base. Eads loaded up the bases one more time when Stratton elected to intentionally walk Hough. Buller then popped up in the infield causing an infield fly situation for two outs, and a miscue from the runner at third got him caught at home trying to steal.

But Eads had added two more runs leading 13-5 with Stratton coming up for their final breath. Nelson was efficient with the rest of his pitches as the southpaw got a fly out to Vasquez in left field, a strike out, and a ground out to Lening at second base for the win.

The freshman Adyn Hough had a huge performance for the Eagles on the mound showing impressive composure, especially in that first brutal inning, to stick around and get the win for Eads. The righthander gave up six hits and five runs, three earned, over five and one-third innings, striking out four and walking seven.

Nelson, the veteran for Eads, threw for one and two-thirds inning allowing just one hit, no runs, walked one, and struck out one in the save.

Bex Seaman took the loss for Stratton, as he went just one and one-third innings before Eads chased him off the mound giving up nine runs on four hits, striking out three, and walking four. It would be the first loss of the season for the senior who came into the game with a 5-0 record and an ERA of 2.03.

Against Stratton, Eads tallied up 11 hits with Buller, Vasquez, Lening, and Mitchek collecting multiple hits in the contest. Hough walked all four times at the bat with Eads chalking up 11 walks overall. Keenan Smith tallied three stolen bases of the six taken by Eads in the game.

Vasquez had a tremendous day in Las Animas and in the title game went 3-for-5 with a double, two singles, three RBIs, and scored twice.

Buller was effective in the 8-hole going 2-for-5 with 2 runs hit in and scored once.

For Stratton it was Seaman who went 2-for-3 leading Stratton at the plate. Jose Gallardo had 2 runs batted in.

Eads earned an automatic host for next Saturday’s Regional Tournament. Eads (13-4) is seeded #3 in the 16-team bracket. The winners of the two games will advance to the quarterfinals game that same day with a chance to advance to the Final Four State Tournament at All-Star Park in Lakewood.

1A Regional Brackets

Region 1 – Merino hosting

  • Game 1–Merino (#1, 15-6) vs Nucla (#16, 8-11) at 9:00 am
  • Game 2–Otis (#8, 14-5) vs Stratton (#9, 14-7) at 11:30 am
  • Game 3 – Winners of Game 1 & Game 2 at 2:00 pm

Region 2 – Flatirons Academy hosting

  • Game 1 – Flatirons Academy (#2, 11-4) vs Sierra Grande (#15, 13-2) at 12:30 pm
  • Game 2 – Haxtun (#7, 15-5) vs Holly (#10, 13-8) at 3:00 pm
  • Game 3 – Winners of Game 1 & Game 2 at 5:30 pm

Region 3 – Eads hosting

  • Game 1 – Akron (#6, 14-5) vs Evangelical Christian Academy (#11, 8-5) at 11:30 am
  • Game 2 – Eads (#3, 13-4) vs Caliche (#14, 7-13) at 2:00 pm
  • Game 3 – Winners of Game 1 & Game 2 at 4:30 pm

Region 4 – Simla hosting

  • Game 1 – Simla (#4, 9-5) vs Wiley (#13, 10-10) at 10:00 am
  • Game 2 – Dove Creek (#5, 7-11) vs Elbert (#12, 7-5) at 12:30 pm
  • Game 3 – Winners of Game 1 & Game 2 at 3:00 pm