Valor Christian dangled the carrot just out of reach for the second time this season, and this time it brought down the curtains on the Durango Demons’ impressive postseason run.
The Durango High School baseball team fell a couple of runs short of being one of the final three teams standing in Class 4A, losing 12-10 to Valor Christian on Friday at the CHSAA Class 4A Baseball State Championships at All-Star Park in Lakewood.
Jeremy Szura’s two-run single in the top of the sixth pulled DHS (13-12) even with the Eagles at 9. But an RBI fielder’s choice, a wild pitch and Daniel Lund’s solo homer in the bottom of the frame gave Valor Christian (17-8) a 12-9 lead. DHS got one back in the seventh but could get no closer after a diving catch by Valor Christian capped the game, ending a remarkable postseason run that saw the Demons make it to the last four for the first time since 1996.
“We had a couple of misplayed balls there in the sixth,” DHS head coach Rob Coddington said. “We left some balls out over the plate that they hit over the fence in the fifth and the sixth.”
Casey Dunlap homered to give DHS a 2-0 lead in the first inning, then the Eagles rattled off five consecutive runs, including the first of Lund’s two homers. The Demons, however, tallied three times to square the game in the top of the fifth.
Valor Christian, which edged DHS 12-11 earlier this season in Montrose, went up 9-5 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Demons rallied yet again, capped by Szura’s single.
Ben Wiley (3-5) took the loss, allowing seven runs (five earned) on five hits in three innings in relief of Ty Elliott. Elliott allowed five earned runs on seven hits and six walks in three innings of work.
“They made some plays, and we weren’t able to hang any zeros there at the end,” Coddington said.
Connor Dugan was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI for DHS, and Blake Dunlap went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sean Blanchard and Tyler Worley each went 2-for-4 and combined to score five times.
DHS loses just four seniors – Dugan, Blanchard, Elliott and Cole Dunegan – which means the valuable experience gained from this postseason run could play huge dividends next season, especially after the way the Demons rallied from an up-and-down regular season to become a tough playoff out.
“We wanted to get over that hump to get to the final eight, and we did,” Coddington said. “And, you know, it’d be nice to follow that up with another run next year, which I think we can do, and I think a lot of the returning kids think we can, too.”