Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia shortstop Keaton Kropp beats the tag at third in Saturday’s win over Alamosa. The Eagles opened the season Friday with a loss to Emery (Castledale, Utah). Both games were part of the 13th annual Lloyd McMillan Memorial Tournament.Paonia is 1-1 after losing its season opener to Emery by a score of 8-2 Friday, and defeating Alamosa Saturday, 7-6. Both games were part of the 13th annual Lloyd McMillan Memorial Tournament, played at Montrose and Delta.
Against Alamosa, Taylor Katzer struck out two to stop a seventh-inning rally by the Maroons.
Alamosa led 3-1 after a one-run triple fueled a three-run rally in the bottom of the third. Eagles outfielder Michael Jackson slowed Alamosa's momentum on a diving catch on a line drive to center field, and opening pitcher Jorge Quinonez struck out Alec Higel to end the inning. The Maroons left two runners on base and were held scoreless through the sixth inning.
Paonia scored three runs in the fourth that started with a single by catcher Jacob Leon. With Matt Hayden in for Leon, Joel Simianer bunted for a single. Hayden took advantage of a passed ball to score from second. An infield hit took a wild bounce that resulted in a two-run single for Josh Altman and a 4-3 lead for Paonia.
In the fifth, Tyler Kendall crunched a double to advance Katzer to third, and Leon brought Katzer home on a single.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, Paonia led 5-3. Alamosa walked shortstop Keaton Kropp, who advanced to second on a sacrifice by Katzer. Kropp advanced to third on an overthrow, and Leon hit another single to score, allowing Hayden to score and giving Paonia a 7-3 lead.In the bottom of the seventh and with one out and runners on first and third, Alamosa's Skyler Timmins drove in two with a triple. With the tying run on first, Timmons scored on a balk. With a runner on second and the score 7-6, Katzer calmly struck out the last two at bats.
Quinonez allowed three hits and one earned run and struck out two in four innings. Katzer threw four Ks and walked four in 10 at-bats. Kropp and Hayden each scored two runs, and Michael Wilmore, Simianer and Katzer one. The Eagles had four hits and five errors in the win.
Head coach Drew Potter credited the team for a game well played and "a heck of a win." Katzer was selected as Player of the Game.
On Friday, Kropp collected two RBIs in the Eagles' 8-2 season-opening loss to Emery, a 2A team out of Castledale, Utah. Emery held Paonia to five hits in 26 at bats. Paonia cycled through three pitchers, with Kendall allowing one hit and throwing three strike-outs and one walk in two innings. Wilmore was 1-2 and was named Player of the Game.
Montrose was undefeated in the tournament for the third consecutive year. Palisade, Eagle Valley, Delta, Weld Central and Durango also competed.
The Eagles open 2A Western Slope League play this Saturday at Hotchkiss. Paonia hasn't lost a league game since 2010. In 2012 they finished with a 17-6-1 overall and 8-0 league record and finished fourth in state. They're still shuffling positions after losing seven seniors last season, but it's all coming together, said Potter.
Kropp is one of six returning seniors on the roster. He said the team lost a great deal of talent and that will be hard to overcome. "But it'll be fun to see how much we can progress, see how far we can go."