The Paonia Eagles advanced to the 2A Region 4 baseball tournament after defeating Ignacio and Rangely last Saturday to claim the 2A District 2 title.
Paonia was the home team in the opening game against Ignacio.
Pam Gillenwater photo
The Paonia Eagles players, managers and coaches pose after winning the 2A Region 2 tournament in Cortez on Saturday (May 5). Paonia defeated Ignacio and Rangely to advance to the Region 4 Tournament on Saturday in Pueblo. Pictured are, back row (l-r) managers Justin Manuppella, Jesse Gillenwater, coach Don Husted, coach Bill Carsten, Keaton Kropp, Joel Simianer, Michael Wilmore, and head coach Drew Potter. In the center is Khyle Manuppella, Josh Altman, Jacob Leon, Kyler Bear, Tyler Jackson, Dustin Braslin, KC Christian, Adrian Lopez and managers Sarah Rushing and Jessica Altman. Across the front is Landon Long, Riley Gill, Derek Heiniger, Taylor Katzer and TK Kendall.
The Bobcats "came out early on us," said head coach Drew Potter. A couple of good hits combined with an error for Paonia resulted in two Bobcat runs in the first inning. "They earned them," said Potter. But that was all they earned. The defense shut Ignacio down for the remainder of the game, and Paonia came out swinging to take a 7-2 lead at the end of the first inning. They added four more in the second and another three in the third to end the game early at 14-2.
Rangely advanced to the championship game on a 7-0 win over Dolores, with Panther Cody Denny pitching a no-hitter against the Bears. With four league wins over Rangely, Paonia was able to put the Panthers away in five with a 17-4 win. In a repeat of the April 28 doubleheader at Rangely, Paonia got an early lead.
This was the fifth meeting this year for the two teams, and it's normally tough to beat a team for a fifth time, said Potter, but, "Once ahead it was easy to keep the lead."
The Eagles are now 15-5-1. They have only lost two of their last 15 games, to 4A Steamboat Springs.
Only 16 teams remain in the run for state, and the Eagles are seeded seventh. They face No. 10 Sargent (12-3) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, at Andenuccio Field in Pueblo. Rangely (11-10) also advanced.
Sargent has most of its team returning, and they are experienced and hitting well, said Potter. Sargent doesn't post player statistics to Max Preps, so it's hard to know who their top players are. But their one common competitor, Ignacio, lost to the Farmers in early-season play.
The winners of the Sargent/Paonia game will play either No. 2 Las Animas (19-2) or 15th seed John Mall (11-8) at 3 p.m. Las Animas won the District 6 title with a 4-2 win to eliminate fifth-ranked Swink.
Las Animas is a one of the best defensive teams in the state, said Potter, and their pitching is impressive. In 19 games they have allowed only 21 runs. The Eagles are the most solid offensive teams in the tournament and in the state, which should make for an interesting match, should the two meet this Saturday, said Potter.