On the eve of its biggest road trip of the year, the baseball team from Paonia High School dominated another doubleheader at home last Saturday and has already hit twice the home runs it hit all of last season.
"I think last year we had six or eight home runs all season, and now we've already got 13," Paonia sophomore pitcher and catcher Jaden Miller said. "We're more focused this year. We push each other really hard in practice."
The Eagles feasted on Monte Vista's pitchers last Saturday at Volunteer Park, winning a doubleheader from the visiting Pirates by a combined score of 40-0.
Baseballs were soaring out of the yard once again as Miller, Trevor Smith and KJ Seriani combined to knock out four homers in the two games.
Batting in the 3-4-5 spots in the lineup, the Eagles' trio dominated the box score for the second weekend in a row with power hitting.
The first game was a 13-0 win in five innings for the home team. Seriani was 2-for-2 with a home run, a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs. Smith clubbed two hits and drove in a run while Miller had a hit, stole a base and scored twice.
Anders Schopp and Dagan Rienks both drove in two for the winners.
Seriani was dominant on the mound in game one, working five innings with three hits. He walked none and struck out a whopping 14 Monte Vista batters.
Miller pitched his first game of the year in game two and put up equally impressive stats. The right hander worked all five innings, struck out five, walked none and allowed two hits.
"I felt pretty good. That was the first time I got to pitch. My arm's been hurt from regional wrestling, but I still felt pretty good," Miller said. "I didn't throw any curveballs, but my fastball and changeup felt real good."
The Eagles got to work their entire lineup in game two as Paonia scored four in the first, three in the second and then batted around three times and scored 20 runs in the bottom of the fourth frame.
Miller, Smith and Seriani all went 4-for-4 at the plate.
Each of the three formidable Eagles had five RBIs and all three of them homered in the second-game outburst.
But the highlight came when Rienks, the junior who excels in football and basketball as well, hit his first career homer.
"It felt good," Rienks deadpanned. He was already thinking about what to order for his free breakfast next gameday at the Diner, where the owners of the local restaurant buy a breakfast for each Eagle who homers during the week.
At this rate, that's going to be a costly tradition for the Diner!
Paonia improved to 5-0 and has outscored its opponents 95-2 so far this year, but beating teams they should beat with gaudy numbers is one thing.
The Eagles will get a measuring stick for where they're really at this week when they head to the Front Range for a game against Dayspring Christian on Friday and then a huge doubleheader on Saturday at No. 1 Resurrection Christian.
"We're becoming more of a family this year than we were last year," Miller said. "We're all going to rely on each other and it will be a good test for us."