Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file photo
The game plan: Don’t deviate from the game plan.
Up until today’s CHSAA Class 4A Boys Baseball State Championships, the Durango Demons’ game plan has served them well – a 12-7 record and a Southwestern League championship.
So when the fifth-seeded Demons take on No. 28 Delta in the first round of state tournament play at 10 a.m. today, the plan will remain the same.
“We just have to be doing what we’ve been doing all season,” said senior Marcus Sansoni, whom DHS head coach Rob Coddington singled out as a leader this week. “That’s how we got the fifth seed.”
Durango beat Delta during the regular season in a 21-0 rout. With a score like that on the résumé, it’d be easy to overlook the Panthers (11-8) at the District 4 championship, which will pit the Delta-Durango winner against the winner of the No. 12 Cañon City (15-4) vs. No. 21 Wheat Ridge (11-8) matchup that will take place at Durango High School immediately after the Demons’ early game.
Overlooking Delta, Coddington said, is a mistake his team won’t make again.
In last year’s tournament, the Panthers surprised the sixth-seeded Demons, eliminating them 4-2 in the first round.
“We absolutely aren’t overlooking Delta,” Coddington said. “We learned that lesson last year.”
Last year, instead of starting their ace, Joe Brennan, the Demons went with No. 2 George Mayberry to try to keep Brennan fresh for the championship game later that day. They never reached that championship game.
Although Coddington said he doesn’t second guess that decision, there won’t be any changes to this season’s regular pitching lineup this championship tournament.
Stick to the plan.
Brennan will start Game 1, and if the Demons get the W, Danny Rowley will start the district championship game.
“Danny Rowley’s been pitching very well for us also,” Coddington said.
After that, it will be up to relievers such as Joe Keresey, Blake Dunlap, Ty Elliott, Christian Vigil and Mayberry.
“I feel like we have pitching and options,” Coddington said. “That’s a luxury some teams don’t have.”
The Demons also haven’t faced a long Saturday doubleheader yet this year, but Sansoni said that won’t be a problem either.
If it wins against Delta, Durango will get a break while Cañon City and Wheat Ridge face off at 12:30 p.m. before the district championship at 3 p.m.
That will allow DHS time to eat, rest and recharge, Sansoni said.
Coddington said the team has practiced a little bit longer than usual this week to help ensure the mental focus stays sharp. But all of the boys have grown up playing double or even tripleheaders in club baseball, so it shouldn’t present any extra challenge.
“I think they’re used to it,” Coddington said. “It’s fun; it’s baseball.”
So for the Demons, then, it’s just business as usual, Sansoni said: Make the throws; make the plays; put the bat on the ball.
“We’re pretty confident as a team,” said Sansoni, who’s averaging .333 at the plate this year and homered on Senior Day, the Demons’ regular-season finale and last time out. “We feel we’ve got what it takes to win both.”