Paonia will take a 19-0 record into this week's District 3/5 tournament after wins over Nucla and Sanford.
Last Tuesday's 9-1 home win over Nucla was a little closer than their first meeting.
"Hats off to Nucla," said head coach Nate Miller. "They played a pretty good game." Since they lost by 17 runs to Paonia in April, said Miller, their pitching game improved.
Nucla isn't a bad team, said Miller. They're a top-ranked 1A team. The difference, he said, "They showed up and we were a little flat."
Nucla's run came in the first inning when sophomore Gabriel Will, batting in the No. 2 position, hit a solo home run off of Anders Schopp.
In the bottom of the fourth, Alex Lozano stopped an almost certain line drive to left field, making the throw to second in time for the tag. "A play like that should give us a spark and we should light up the bats," said Miller. "That didn't happen."
Trevor Smith was 3-3 with three RBIs, including a three run homer in the sixth, giving Paonia a 9-1 lead.
Schopp allowed seven hits and struck out seven in five innings for the win. Lozano closed, throwing five Ks and allowing one hit in the final two innings.
Paonia picked up a final win last week ahead of district competition, defeating an11-4 Sanford team, 15-0, in Gunnison.
Hotchkiss ended regulation play at 14-4 following wins Saturday at Sargent.
In game one the Bulldogs blanked the Farmers in five innings for a 12-0 win. Presley Pene was 4-4 with three RBIs, Colton Deluzio was 3-5, and Jesus Macias was 3-3 with four RBIs. Chase Hiatt was 1-3.
Opening pitcher Kale Litzelman allowed three hits and one earned run in 4.1 innings.
Hotchkiss won game two in five innings by a score of 16-5.
District 3/5 competition opens this week. Paonia and Hotchkiss are seeded one and two and on opposite sides of the bracket, which could mean a possible showdown for the district title. First-round games are scheduled for May 11, with both North Fork teams receiving a first-round bye.
This Saturday Paonia will face the winner of the first-round game two between No. 4 Ignacio or No. 5 Dolores in the district semifinals at Grand Valley High School in Parachute. No. 2 Hotchkiss will face either No. 3 Meeker or No. 6 Rangely.
The winners of those games will play that afternoon for the district championship.