All good things must come to an end. For the defending state champion Paonia Eagles baseball team, last week's 9-8 loss to Class 5A Grand Junction ended a 35-game winning streak.
After losing their first seven games of the season, the Tigers had won seven of their last eight games. "That's a good 5A baseball team," said head coach Nate Miller. "They were on a hell of a winning streak there. If we had to lose, I guess, we'll take that one."
Miller blamed defensive errors for the loss, and in the same breath gave his players credit for putting up a good fight. "I thought they battled. We didn't play very defensively and we were still in the game."
Paonia opened with a 3-0 lead, with the top three batters in the order, Slater Podgorny, KJ Seriani and Jaden Miller, all getting hits and scoring runs.
First-inning errors allowed Tigers junior Sergio Moreno to score, and Jared Chapman opened the second inning with a solo home run. In the top of the fourth, the Tigers added a run, and Paonia took a 6-3 lead, with Miller hitting a two-run homer over right field with two outs.
By the fifth inning, starting pitcher Seriani had thrown 107 of the 110 pitches allowed. "You should be able to get through a seven-inning game with 110 pitches, but when you don't play good defense, you have to keep having to throw," said Coach Miller.
The Tigers scored six runs in the top of the sixth inning for a 9-6 lead, with pitcher Soul Connolly allowing three hits and four earned runs in one inning.
The Eagles kept battling and in the bottom of the sixth, David Lozano opened with a triple. Podgorny and Seriani took a base on walks, and Anders Schopp brought them both home on a line drive single to left field, bringing Paonia within one run of a tie game.
In the top of the seventh Grand Junction failed to get a hit off of Schopp.
In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, Lozano singled and reached second on a Tigers error. The game ended with Podgorny on first and Lozano on second.
"We had a chance to win the game," said Miller. "We had a guy on second, top of the order's up."
The following day, Paonia traveled to Grand Junction, where it crushed 3A Moffat County (4-4-1, 2-2-1 3A WSL), scoring seven runs in the final inning for a 17-2 win.
Jaden Miller was awarded the win, allowing four hits and one earned run and striking out five in five innings. Podgorny threw three Ks and allowed one hit in one inning, and Schopp allowed one earned run. The three pitchers combined for 110 pitches in seven innings.
At the plate Miller was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two triples; Seriani was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Isaac Stanfield was 2 for 3 and David Lozano was 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
Paonia increased its league record to 4-0, opening a doubleheader Saturday against Meeker with a 10-3 conference win. Due to the rain and snow that fell on Friday and into Saturday morning, the doubleheader was moved to Grand Junction.
At 8-5, Meeker is in third place in 2A District 3/5 MaxPreps standings. Paonia had six hits and six earned runs for the game.
Paonia led, 10-1, after five innings and allowed the Cowboys two runs in the sixth inning. In game two, Paonia scored three big runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning helping the Eagles go on for a 4-1 victory.