Falcons fight the good fight versus Bayfield Wolverines

LA JARA — Incensed by his lack of offensive production in a 10-run home loss to Class 2A’s top-ranked Paonia Eagles, Hayden Farmer took it upon himself to insist upon a post-game round of batting practice in preparation for Saturday’s trip to Centauri.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate…mentally,” said the Bayfield sophomore, who also took the loss on the mound against PHS, “and I just needed to be alone, get some cage work. Guess it worked out a little today!”

And, in a sense, worked out for the Wolverines as a whole.

With Farmer smashing one home run and red-hot teammate Michael Gettman two, BHS managed to flog the Falcons 22-7 in the 3A Intermountain League doubleheader’s first game, then 17-11 in the second as reserve Alec Demko, pressed into a starting role with multiple teammates either injured or absent, went yard once.

But in neither contest, no matter how badly battered, did CHS (5-8, 1-5 IML) give up.

“Our backs were against the wall…but we showed a lot of heart today,” Centauri head coach Tyler Buhr said.  “We hit the ball, probably better than we have all year, so…it’s looking up for us! It was a good showing.”

And likely would have been even better had it not been for Bayfield righty Jake Brandon, who managed to stop the Falcons’ rally against Game 1 starter Gettman with 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief (he’d entered to protect a crumbling 8-7 advantage), then scattered four hits while allowing two runs in the first 2-1/3 innings of Game 2.

By the time he came off the slab for good, he’d received 29 runs’ worth of support (15 in Game 2, 14 in Game 1 with 11 of those coming in the top of the seventh). And not only would he earn the Game 2 win, he’d contribute to his own cause by going 5-for-6 with three runs and two RBI atop the guests’ order.

“I just knew I had to pitch; I knew my teammates could rally,” he said. “I was pretty confident at the plate—I think most my teammates were—and they were throwing good, first-pitch strikes. I like to jump on ’em.”

Falcon Tristan Crowther certainly saw some deliveries he liked too. Including a bases-loaded double to cap CHS’ five-run fourth, the first baseman/pitcher finished Game 2 2-5 with two two-baggers, a run, and drove in six.

“They’re a good team, hit the ball, so we just kept going,” he said, after what ended up being a six-hour day [Falcon broadcaster Rion Eagan timed Game 2 alone at two hours, 58 minutes] at the diamond. “We just kept fighting, played good baseball.”

Centauri actually outscored Bayfield 9-2 during the day’s final four frames, and before Game 2 pitcher-of-record Zach Martin (2.1 IP, 13 R, 8 H, 7 BB, 3 HB, 3 K) concluded matters flying out to right, CHS enjoyed their own long-ball thrill when Martin Garcia took Hub Brandon deep to left with one away in the hosts’ seventh.

Also singling, tripling and walking once, Garcia would finish the second game 3-4 with two RBI and four runs scored.  Martin went 2-4 with a double, a walk, and scored once.

“I was pretty happy,” catcher Brandon Buhr (3-4, BB, 2 R) said. “I mean, Bayfield’s always a good team—we haven’t played that well with them—and we hit the ball, didn’t have too many errors.  It was good.”

“We can come back at any time; it just depends on who wants to hit,” said Crowther. “We’ll learn from it, be better next week.”

Diego Fernandez went 3-for-3 with two RBI to lead the Falcons’ Game 1 attack, while Garcia was 1-3 with a run and two batted in. Buhr was 1-2 with a double and two runs, and Martin 1-4 with a triple, run, and RBI.

Gettman was 2-4 with two runs and three batted in, and Farmer 3-5 with three runs and two RBI in the opener, with Garcia (4.2 IP, 14 R, 9 H, 7 BB, 2 HB, 4 K) taking the loss. Plating four runs each, Demko and Tyler Conner combined to go 5-7 with three runs as BHS completed the endurance test improving to 9-3, 6-0 in league.

“It was pretty close until that seventh inning in the first game—that’s when they just went away with it,” said Brandon Buhr. “I think the second game was more effective…hopefully we just take off with it. Hopefully we can just keep building.”

“We’re going to try to keep our sticks hot. And keep playing smart defense; we’ve had a couple games where our defense got away,” Tyler Buhr said. “So we can hone it a little and fine-tune before more league games.”

Up next for Centauri will be a 3 p.m. start April 18 at home versus 2A Walsenburg John Mall (0-8).