Grand County Juniors fall just short in run to compete for state title |

Grand County Juniors fall just short in run to compete for state title

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

In their best-ever season of Little League baseball, the Grand County Juniors made it to the final round of the district playoffs but fell one game short of going to the state championships.

Played on the Middle Park High’s baseball field in Granby, the district tournament saw the Grand County team for 13- to 14-year-olds battling for the state championship berth against teams from Summit and Gilpin counties. Summit emerged as the winner with Grand County taking the runner-up spot.

The district tournament, which was double elimination, began last Friday with Summit beating Grand County in a hard-fought 12-10 game. The home team then rallied to whip Gilpin County 10-4 on Sunday and then even its tournament record by beating Summit 6-4 on Monday.

In the final game to determine the district championship on Tuesday, Grand County players fought hard but trailed in the final innings to lose it 6-3.

“We ended up with the short end of the stick in this game,” said coach Bob Franek. “But our kids played hard and had a great tournament.”

As Tuesday’s championship game began, Grand County took an initial 1-0 lead. The run was scored after leadoff batter Tyler Franek walked, advanced to third on a single hit by Connor Jennings and then sprinted home on a sacrifice fly by Johnny Stensvad.

Summit retaliated at the top of the second inning by scoring three runs. The home team was not able to respond until the bottom of the third inning when two more runs evened the score at 3-3.

Grand County’s third inning rally began with Jennings getting a base on balls, followed by a single batted by Cort Brennan. Both base runners then advanced on a past ball before Brian Macchione blasted a single into the outfield to drive in Jennings. Brennan soon followed him to home plate to score the team’s third run of the game on a single batted by Karl Deem.

The game remained tied until the top of the fifth when Summit scored a single run. Grand County’s defense did their best to hold them, but their opponents racked up two more runs in the sixth.

Grand County’s leadoff pitcher was Tyler Franek, who earned two strikeouts in two innings of play. Brennan came in as his relief and earned four strikeouts.

Also contributing to the Grand County team’s efforts were players Steven Kentfield, Coltan Kissler, Brydon Jackson, Cody Hartman and Coleman Springer.

“This season’s successes were a real team effort,” said Franek. “Our players really jelled as a team. We’ll be back next season.”