Now that the regular season is finally over for Merino baseball, the Rams will now have the chance to chase the prize they’ve had their sights set on all year.
On Tuesday, the 17-2 Rams will travel to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling to begin their charge toward a potential Class 1A state title. They will start in the District 5 Class 1A tournament at the No. 1 seed, where they will face No. 8 Weldon Valley in the quarter-finals.
Only the top two teams from each district will advance to the regional tournament.
This first game should go pretty quickly for the Rams, as they face a winless Weldon Valley side. In all but one contest this year, the Warriors have lost by 20 points or more. If and when they win in the quarters, then the Rams will have to play the winner of No. 4 Caliche against No. 5 Prairie.
Caliche enters the district tournament with a 10-8 record and the No. 10 ranking in the CHSAA’s RPI rankings and was one of the teams that played the Rams a bit stronger than most this season. In their two meetings with the Rams on April 9, they lost by scores of 15-0 and 13-8. The Buffaloes are home to some power hitters in Tanner Gerk (.429 batting average), Reegan Skeels (.409), Seth Marick (.370) and Chance Mitchell (.321).
The Buffaloes have scored 108 points overall despite their tough schedule and have three pitchers with ERAs below 4.00 in Gerk (3.47 ERA), Kyser Martinez (3.57) and Marick (3.80).
Prairie isn’t too far behind Caliche on paper, as the Mustangs sit 15th in RPI with their 9-3 record. Much like Merino, the Mustangs have proven they can fire serious firepower at home plate as they scored 197 runs in 12 games. The Rams, by comparison, have scored 250 in 19 games.
Throughout the season, the Rams posted the second toughest schedule in the entire Class 1A according to RPI rankings. Now they can test that strength of the schedule when they start taking on some of Colorado’s toughest teams this week and beyond.