Regis Jesuit won its first Class 5A state baseball championship since 2011 thanks to pitching depth.
The Raiders defeated Cherry Creek 8-3 in the championship game on June 1 at All City Field.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Regis coach Matt Darr said. “It was the same thing in the title game. When you have good pitching, you have a shot in every game. It was typical of our whole year.
“It’s been four seconds in championship games until this year, especially to Creek. That was big and it feels great.”
Cherry Creek, seeking its ninth state title, was making its 14th appearance in a state championship game.
The state title was the third for Regis and the first since 2011, when the Raiders beat Cherry Creek 15-10 in the final.
“The state title is well deserved,” said junior rightfielder Ethan O’Donnell. “We worked real hard for this one. Regis historically has had some of the best talent but we’ve been cursed in the postseason but here we had a special group of guys and a special pitching staff was exceptional this year.”
Junior shortstop and starting pitcher Jacob Thompsen and relievers Chase Allen and Alec Willis contained the Bruins and prevented another Creek comeback.
Thompsen, who didn’t allow an earned run in 17.2 postseason innings, limited the Bruins to four hits in 4.2 innings.
Regis, which lost to Creek early in the season, held a 3-0 lead when the game was stopped for an hour and 55 minutes because of a lightning delay.
Cherry Creek, with a thin pitching staff that was extended since the Bruins had to come back through the loser’s bracket, lifted sophomore starter Zack Herrick to begin the fourth inning and Regis scored four times to expand its lead to 7-0.
O’Donnell belted a two-run homer to cap the four-run outburst.
“I got a pitch I was able to pull and I knew the minute I hit it that it was going to go out,” said O’Donnell. “It put the team in a good position to win. Coach Darr sat us down during the delay and said we still have our No. 1 on the mound and we have our No. 2 and No. 3 in the bullpen. Just go out there, score runs and we’re going to win.”
Creek, which used comebacks, steals of home and squeeze bunts to advance in the tournament, had chances to rally and left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings. The Bruins sent four batters to the plate with the bases full but never got a hit but two runs did score on a walk and a fielder’s choice.
“We did everything we could,” said Creek coach Marc Johnson, who will head into next season with 806 career wins, one shy of the all-time Colorado record. “We got to where we couldn’t overcome what happened. Regis deserved it, they played great. They came in and had a lot of pitching on that club. They go deep. In that title game they were bringing in arm after arm.”
Creek finished with a 23-8 record and Regis was 24-6.
Regis was unbeaten in the tournament until a 5-0 loss to Mountain Vista on May 31, which sent Creek, Vista and Regis into the final three games on June 1. Creek and Vista played first and the winner advanced to face the Raiders for the state championship.
In a semifinal consolation bracket game on May 31 , Creek eliminated Centennial League rival Grandview, 8-3, which marked the Bruins’ third win this season over the Wolves.
Senior right-hander Nathan Mitchell pitched 6.1 innings, allowed seven hits and only walked one batter in improving his record to 11-0 on the season.
“He makes you beat him,” said Johnson. “He doesn’t walk a lot of batters, and that helps a lot.”
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