The Paonia Eagles baseball team defeated Sargent’s Farmers and the Las Animas Trojans at the Region 4 baseball tournament last Saturday in Pueblo. The Eagles (15-5-1) now head to the final four segment of the 2A tournament. They face No. 3 Resurrection Christian Cougars (18-3) Friday at Englewood High School in Denver.
The last time Paonia made the final four in baseball, this year's seven seniors were sophomores. They were blanked in the semifinals by a bigger, more experienced Resurrection Christian Cougar's team.
Resurrection Christian lost to Limon in the championship game.
This Friday, the two, Eagles and Cougars, will once again fight for the chance to play for 2A state championship. As they did in 2010, Paonia will face the boys from private school from Loveland, at Englewood High School. And this year, with seven seniors, Paonia has much better odds of a win.
The Eagles are seeded seventh and earned their way to the semifinals by defeating No. 10 Sargent (12-3), 5-4, in eight innings. They then upset No. 2 Las Animas Trojans, 2-1. Both games were played last Saturday at Andenuccio Field in Pueblo.
In the final game, the Eagles were down 1-0, according to head coach Drew Potter. KC Christian hit a one-out double and Tyler Kendall followed with an RBI triple. Paonia attempted a suicide squeeze and Kendall scored the go-ahead run. "We stopped them in the top of the seventh to take the 2-1 win."
Several players, including Keaton Kropp, Tyler Jackson and Taylor Katzer, had great plays throughout the series, said Potter, and "Derek Heiniger pitched a phenomenal game for all seven innings."
The winners of Friday's game will face either the No. 1 Rye Thunderbolts (20-1), the defending state champions, or No. 5 Byers (13-4), the defending runners-up, in the championship game, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, at Englewood High School.