The No. 1 Eagles found themselves in unfamiliar territory but rallied for a 14-5 baseball win in Cedaredge last Wednesday.
Paonia moved to 11-0 on the eve of yesterday's showdown with No. 4 Hotchkiss.
Cedaredge (9-4) didn't make it easy for the visitors and jumped ahead 3-1 after the first inning and tied the score 4-4 after the second, but it was all Paonia after that.
"We knew they were good hitters. Cedaredge has a good team," Paonia junior Trevor Smith said. "They came out on fire and wanted to beat us. We just had to bounce back and play our game."
Eagles starting pitcher Jaden Miller ran into some early trouble, surrendering a two-run home run to Tristan Waddell and an RBI double to Garrett Meyers as the Bruins built a 3-1 first-inning advantage.
But KJ Seriani answered for Paonia in the second, hitting a three-run blast off Cedaredge starter Jacob Lewis.
For Seriani, it was his seventh homer of the season, which leads all classes in the state.
Waddell scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the second to tie the game for the Bruins, but Paonia's pitchers settled down and kept Cedaredge at bay after that.
Seriani picked up the win after relieving Miller and working four innings. He allowed one run, gave up three hits and three walks and struck out six Bruins' batters.
Smith worked the seventh on the mound for Paonia, getting a ground out and striking out two to end the game. It wasn't the plan to have all three pitchers work the game, but it worked out just fine.
"When one person doesn't have his stuff that day, everybody's got to have his back and do their jobs," Smith said.
The Eagles plated runs in six straight innings. Garrett Beck was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs and Smith also batted 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Miller helped the Eagles' cause with two hits and two RBIs.
"It's nice that even our seventh, eighth and ninth batters are all pretty good hitters too," Smith said.
With solid players in all three phases of the game, Paonia couldn't have been in a better position going into yesterday's rivalry game with Hotchkiss.
"We're pretty confident, but we just have to keep working and getting better," Smith said.