Eagles survive 'Dogs' rally; both move on

By Eric Goold

The rubber game went to the Eagles.

In the third game of the year between baseball rivals Paonia and Hotchkiss, the Eagles won 5-4 last Saturday in Cortez to capture the 2A District 2 championship and clinch a spot in the 16-team state tournament field.

Paonia won the first game in the series at home 3-0 on April 19. Then Hotchkiss won 12-8 after Cole Carvill's walk-off grand slam May 6 in the last contest of the regular season.

The Bulldogs (17-2) will be in the field this weekend in Pueblo as well after earning a spot in the state tournament based on their RPI ranking.

Paonia (20-1) avenged its only loss of the year and rolled to the district title behind the strong right arm of KJ Seriani.

The sophomore hurled a complete game victory for the Eagles, scattering nine hits over seven innings and allowing four runs, none earned. He walked two and struck out three Bulldogs.

Paonia put up four runs in the bottom of the first inning and another tally in the second, then held on to beat Hotchkiss. The Bulldogs scored two in the third, plated one run in the fifth and sixth frames, then were blanked in the last inning as Paonia prevailed.

Seriani helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 from the plate in the victory. Catcher Jaden Miller went 2-for-4 for Paonia with an RBI and a double.

Hotchkiss senior Cesar Gonzalez was saddled with his second hard-luck loss to Paonia this season. The right-hander tossed six innings in the defeat and allowed nine hits. Only two of the five runs charged to him were earned and he walked four Eagles and struck out two.

The two teams each committed four errors in the contest.

Paonia advanced to the district final after a 12-1 win over Meeker, while Hotchkiss got there via a 4-3 win against Ignacio.

The state tournament starts Friday at Hobbs Field in Pueblo. No. 1 seed Paonia will play No. 16 Sargent in the first game.

Game 5 features No. 5 seed Hotchkiss against No. 12 seed Peyton.

If both the Eagles and Bulldogs win their two games this weekend, Paonia and Hotchkiss will meet for a fourth time this year in the 2A state semis on May 28.