COLORADO SPRINGS — D’Evelyn junior Tate Aurich was the most challenging obstacle Ponderosa faced on its path to a second straight Class 4A baseball state title.
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Ponderosa dominated the 8-team double-elimination state tournament held May 27, May 28, June 3 and June 4 in Colorado Springs. The Mustangs had a perfect 5-0 record while outscoring their opponents 65-13.
Ponderosa claimed its second straight state title with a 11-1 victory over Cheyenne Mountain on June 4 at UCHealth Field in Colorado Springs to complete the undefeated state tournament run.
The only pitcher really to hold Ponderosa in check during the state tournament was Aurich. In the Final 4 game June 3 at UCHealth Field, D’Evelyn and Ponderosa were tied 2-2 going to the seventh inning. Aurich had thrown 111 pitches allowing just a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
“I was treating it like any other game,” said Aurich, who finished the season with a 7-2 record on the hill with a 2.25 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. “I had success all season. Just treating it like another day. I could feel the intensity. There were a lot of big moments for sure.”
The high-powered Mustang offense managed just four hits off Aurich. In fact, the junior struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning before hitting the maximum number of pitched allowed. D’Evelyn coach Dan Porreco had to lift Aurich after he left the mound in the top of the sixth inning.
“I’m not surprised because he is such a bulldog,” Porreco said of Aurich’s performance. “He would have thrown 200 pitches today if you would have let him. If you would tell him he is throwing tomorrow he would do it. That is just the kind of kid he is.”
For Aurich to have the type of season and outing against Ponderosa was in doubt a year ago.
“I just wanted to be back out there super badly,” Aurich said of his return to the field this spring. “That was huge motivator for me. I didn’t want to take it for granted. I wanted to enjoy it while we are out here.”
Aurich was in a car accident midway through his sophomore season and suffered a back injury that kept him off the field for the Jaguars’ run to the Final 4 last year.
“A year ago today I was in a pretty bad place,” Aurich admitted after missing the second-half of the season last after the car accident. “The boys picked me up last year and they showed it out again this year. It was a great season.”
It wasn’t a great top of the seventh inning for D’Evelyn with Aurich now a spectator from the dugout. Ponderosa scored six runs on five hits. Freshman Ryan Kim, junior Colin Kim and senior Troy Benko all took the mound for the Jaguars in the seventh inning.
“Going 2-2 through six innings was great,” Porreco said. “They (Ponderosa) are a very good team. We did hold them, but it was whoever scored first after the delay was going to win this.”
A rain/lightning delay halted the game just as the start of the fifth inning began. D’Evelyn offense couldn’t get on track as Ponderosa senior relief pitcher Tyler Slattery faced the minimum of nine batters in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“With the rain delay you just never know,” Porreco said. “It just went their way.”
D’Evelyn’s lone two runs were scored in the bottom of the second inning. A drive to center field by senior Ryan Jolton scored junior Heath Perry and freshman Blake Young scored on an error by the Mustangs’ centerfielder on the single.
The Jaguars finished the season with a 19-10 record. D’Evelyn had a rough start out of the gates with a 5-game losing streak early in the season.
“I’m proud of them,” Porreco said. “We’ve fought hard and they played really well this last two-thirds of the season.”
D’Evelyn will graduate seven seniors, but have a handful of returning starters.
“We are going to miss the seniors for sure, but these juniors have some talent and we’ve got some young upcoming talent,” Aurich said. “I think we’ll be back next year and make it further. We’ll win it next year.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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