By Tim Donohoo
For the Courier
Evergreen shortstop Josh Bellatti is insistent that nothing was going through his mind when he was standing at the plate with a one ball and two strike count in the bottom of the seventh inning against Lewis-Palmer. A trip to All-Star Park for the 4A state baseball tournament was on the line and Bellatti delivered in a big way.
With two runners aboard, the senior blasted a walk-off homer to give Evergreen a 7-4 4A District 2 tournament win May 10. The Cougars (18-3) will take on Palmer Ridge (15-6) on May 16 at 10 a.m. at All-Star Park in Lakewood in the first game of the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament.
“This is an awesome feeling,” said Bellatti. “When I got down two strikes I was just trying to put the ball in play somewhere hard.”
Senior pitcher Brock Burke tossed a complete game two-hit, 13-strikeout gem as the Cougars eliminated Air Academy 3-1 in the district opener. Lewis-Palmer advanced to the finals with a 4-0 shutout of Fort Morgan.
Evergreen took the lead in the second inning versus Lewis-Palmer as the Cougars sent eight hitters to the plate. The rally began when Burke reached first base on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. With two outs, senior third baseman Jake Englehart singled and crossed the plate following junior Dylan Schmoker’s blast over the left-center field wall. The Cougars held a 3-0 lead.
Senior Daniel Gibbins ripped a 2-1 pitch over the left-center field wall in the fourth to give Evergreen a 4-0 advantage. That’s when Lewis-Palmer went to work. In the top of the fifth inning, the Rangers scored three times on five hits. The big blast came off the bat of junior Conner Weeth, who cracked a three-run homer.
The Rangers (17-4) tied the game in top of the seventh before Bellatti went deep to end the game.
“The kids stepped up like they have done all year. They pull for each other and believe in each other and they have the attitude that they can do it,” Evergreen head coach Dale Hutchings said.