How The Reds Won It
District Tournament Game #1:
Eaton 11, Brush 2
Game Highlights: Carrasco allowed just one run as the Reds took an 8-0 lead in the 5th inning and cruised to an easy opening round win. Wiederspan drove in 3 runs including a slash bunt double that ignited a 3-run third inning to give the Reds an early lead. Smith also drove in 3 runs and singled in each of his first 3 plate appearances from the leadoff spot. Loftis, Hagen, Meyers and Hughes also added RBIs and the Reds took advantage of 6 Brush errors, Mininger threw the final inning to close out the win for the Reds.
District Tournament Game #2:
Eaton 10, Sterling 3
Game Highlights: Smith recorded 3 hits again, with a single, double and home run to pace the Reds' offense with 3 RBI, as Ochoa allowed just 4 hits in the complete-game win. Hughes gave the Reds an early lead with a 2-run home run in the first inning, the Reds then added 5 runs in the 2nd inning to put the game out of reach. Wiederspan also doubled and Meyers knocked in an RBI. The win guaranteed Eaton a spot in the State Tournament the following weekend.
District Tournament Game #3:
Eaton 12, Greeley Central 5
Game Highlights: The Reds were down 3-0 after the top of the first after Mininger took the mound in relief and limited the damage, the Reds then came roaring back with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning as Hughes hit the first of two home runs on the day to tie the game up at 3-3 with just one swing of the bat. Mininger then kept Greeley Central from scoring again until the 7th inning, scattering just 6 hits and 1 walk the rest of the way, while the Reds added a run in the 4th inning with an RBI single from Hagen. In the 3rd inning, Hughes hit a solo home run to add to the Reds' lead to make it 5-3. The Reds' 4-run fourth inning led by Thompson's RBI double put the game out of reach.
District Tournament Game #4:
Eaton 6, Greeley Central 10
Game Highlights: The Reds mounted comebacks from a 4-1 deficit and an 8-3 deficit, but couldn't overcome the 10-5 deficit in a game that would have given the Reds (the only undefeated team left in the tournament coming into the game) the District Championship and #1 seed for the State Tournament. With the bases loaded in the 1st inning, Smith made a diving grab in centerfield to limit the damage to only one run, and with 3 runs already in and the bases loaded in the 2nd inning for Greeley Central, Meyers snagged a line drive and turned a rare triple play to limit the damage. Meyers also hit a home run in the 3rd inning.
District Tournament Game #5:
Eaton 0, Greeley Central 0
Game Highlights: This would have been the District Championship Game, but it was rained out and the game was never made up due to the start of the State Tournament just a few days later. The Reds won a coin flip to earn the #1 seed at the State Tournament.
How The Reds Won It
State Tournament Game #1:
Eaton 14, Pueblo 0
1st Inning: Smith walks, Meyers doubles, Carrasco walks, Hughes walks to bring in a run, Loftis hits a 2-run double, and Thompson hits a sacrifice fly to give the Reds a 4-run lead, Carrasco then retires the side in order, Reds lead 4-0
2nd Inning: The Reds are retired in order, after allowing a leadoff single, Carrasco strikes out the next 3 batters to end the inning, Reds lead 4-0
3rd Inning: Carrasco walks, Hughes walks, and Loftis doubles and later scores on a wild pitch, Carrasco then strikes out the first two batters and then induces the next batter to ground out softly on a ball fielded by Carrasco himself to end the inning, Reds lead 7-0
4th Inning: Meyers hits a solo home run, Carrasco then strands two runners on base with a groundout and strikeout to end the scoring threat, Reds lead 8-0
5th Inning: The Reds are retired in order, Carrasco allows a leadoff walk but then strikes out the next batter and induces an inning-ending double play, Reds lead 8-0
6th Inning: Smith singles, Meyers and Carrasco walk, Hughes reaches on an error, Loftis singles, Thompson walks, Hagen singles, and Smith hits another single to score the Reds' 6th run of the inning, Carrasco then retires 3 of 4 batters to end the game via the mercy rule, Reds win 14-0
Game Highlights: By the time Loftis doubled in the 1st inning, the Reds already had more than enough runs for Carrasco, who was dominant in the shutout, striking out 9 in the 6-inning contest and allowing just 3 hits and two walks. Carrasco was walked 4 times and Loftis made Pueblo pay for pitching around Carrasco with two run-scoring doubles and an RBI single, while Smith and Meyers also had two key hits and Hughes scored 3 runs.
State Tournament Game #2:
Eaton 13, Arapahoe 11
1st Inning: The Reds are retired in order, the Reds then allow the first 7 batters to reach base with 6 of them scoring before Mininger enters in relief and retires the next two batters to end the inning, Reds trail 0-6
2nd Inning: Hughes leads off with a single, Loftis singles, Yarber reaches on an error, Thompson singles, Wiederspan singles, and then with two outs, Meyers reaches on an error and Carrasco doubles to tie the game up, Mininger then retires the side in order to end the inning, Reds tied 6-6
3rd Inning: Yarber walks but is left stranded at first base, then Mininger allows two walks and after they steal to take 2nd and 3rd base, Mininger strikes out the next two batters on a total of just 7 pitches, and then induces an infield popout to end the scoring threat, Reds tied 6-6
4th Inning: The Reds are retired in order, after allowing a leadoff walk, Mininger gets the next 3 batters to all ground out to end the inning, Reds tied 6-6
5th Inning: Carrasco and Loftis single, but the Reds do not capitalize, Mininger then retires the side in order, Reds tied 6-6
6th Inning: Thompson walks but is then forced out on a groundout by Hagen, before Wiederspan reaches on an error, the top of the Reds lineup then comes up and Smith singles to give the Reds a lead, before Meyers hits a 3-run home-run, Carrasco singles, Hughes singles, Loftis doubles, and Yarber and Thompson single to make it a 7-run inning for the Reds, Mininger then allows a double and a home run, but then after the bases are loaded with just one out, Carrasco enters in relief and gets two groundouts to end the inning, Reds lead 13-8
7th Inning: Smith walks but is stranded at first base, then after allowing 3 singles that led to 3 runs on just one out, Carrasco retires 2 of the last 3 batters to end the game, Reds win 13-11
Game Highlights: Mininger was the hero in stopping the damage in the 1st inning and shutting down Arapahoe into the 6th inning, which gave the Reds time to muster their own offensive display as each Red had at least one hit, and the Reds bunched their hits to score 6 runs to immediately tie up the game in the 2nd inning, and then exploded for 7 more runs led by Meyers' 3-run home run in the 6th inning to secure the victory as Carrasco then shut the door in relief.
State Tournament Game #3:
Eaton 8, Greeley Central 11
Game Highlights: The Reds fell behind 4-1 in the first inning, but came back to tie it up in the top of the 3rd inning before surrendering the lead again to fall behind 7-4. Stanclift came in and pitched well the rest of the way as the Reds tied up the game in the top of the 6th inning at 8-8, but with two on in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Reds gave up a 3-run walk-off home run that barely cleared the 307-foot sign in rightfield to a batter without a home run all season to end the game. Smith, Hughes, and Meyers each had doubles, while Hughes and Meyers each ended with 2 RBIs apiece, and Loftis and Yarber also knocked in runs.
State Tournament Game #4:
Eaton 6, Arapahoe 5
1st Inning: Tateyama strands runners at 1st and 3rd base with a flyout to end the inning, Smith walks and steals 2nd base to score on Hughes' 2-out single, Hughes then scores on a single by Yarber after Loftis had walked, Reds lead 2-0
2nd Inning: After allowing a run on a double, steal, and passed ball, Tateyama retires the next 3 batters in order to end the inning, Wiederspan and Meyers are left stranded on base after singles, Reds lead 2-1
3rd Inning: Tateyama allows a single, stolen base and another single, but as the runner tries to score, leftfielder Loftis relays the throw to 3rd baseman Carrasco to catcher Yarber in time for the out, the next batter then flies out to centerfielder Smith who doubles off the runner from 1st base to end the scoring threat, Carrasco then walks, Hughes doubles, and Loftis hits a sacrifice fly to score Carrasco, Reds lead 3-1
4th Inning: Tateyama strands a runner on 2nd base to end the inning, the Reds are then retired in order, Reds lead 3-1
5th Inning: Tateyama retires the side in order, Carrasco then hits a solo home run and Hughes and Loftis single but are left on base, Reds lead 4-1
6th Inning: After back-to-back doubles, Mininger enters in relief and following a walk, strikes out the next batter before a triple and wild pitch puts the Reds behind by a run, but then Mininger induces an infield popout and strikes out the final batter to end the inning, Thompson then takes a hit-by-pitch, and with one out, Wiederspan hits a 2-run home run to put the Reds back on top, Reds lead 6-5
7th Inning: Mininger gets the first 3 batters of the inning to all ground out to Carrasco and Meyers to end the game, Reds win 6-5
Game Highlights: Wiederspan's 2-run homer, and the Reds' spectacular defense, was the difference in this win that sent the Reds on to face Greeley Central for the State Championship. The Reds would have to beat Central two times in a row though in order to win State, one loss would hand the title to the heavily-favored Class 5A team.
State Tournament Game #5:
Eaton 17, Greeley Central 9
1st Inning: Meyers walks, Carrasco singles, Hughes reaches on an error, Loftis draws a bases-loaded walk, Yarber hits a 2-RBI double, and then Thompson walks and Wiederspan singles in 2 more runs, Ochoa strands runners at 2nd and 3rd base by striking out the final two batters of the inning, Reds lead 5-0
2nd Inning: Carrasco singles and Loftis doubles, but both are left stranded, Ochoa then allows 2 runs on 3 hits, but induces a groundout to end the inning, Reds lead 5-2
3rd Inning: Wiederspan draws a 2-out walk, then Smith singles, and Meyers hits an RBI single before Carrasco walks and Hughes reaches on an error that knocks in another run, Ochoa then retires 3 of the 4 batters in the inning to strand a runner at 2nd base, Reds lead 9-2
4th Inning: The Reds load the bases on walks by Yarber and Thompson and a single by Smith, but leave the bases loaded to end the inning, after the first two batters reach on singles, Ochoa retires the next 3 batters in order to end the scoring threat, Reds lead 9-2
5th Inning: Carrasco singles, Hughes is hit by a pitch, Loftis delivers an RBI single and Hagen hits a 2-out RBI single, Ochoa then gets two quick outs, and after two walks, induces a groundout to Meyers to end the inning, Reds lead 11-2
6th Inning: Smith leads off with a single and then steals 2nd base and scores as Meyers singles, Carrasco then reaches on an error and after a wild pitch advances him to 3rd base, scores on a sacrifice fly from Hughes, after the first four Central batters reach safely, Meyers then turns an unassisted double play, but the next 4 batters all reach as well to have the Reds need to bring Mininger back in relief to induce an infield popout to end the inning, Reds lead 14-9
7th Inning: Thompson singles, Hagen reaches on an error and then after being moved up a base by Wiederspan, Smith hits a sacrifice fly before Meyers hits a 2-run home run to finally put the game completely out of reach, Mininger then retires the side in order, striking out 2 batters in the inning to end the game, Reds win 17-9
Game Highlights: The Reds did what a team in the loser's bracket must, and scored early and often to chase Greeley Central's ace pitcher in the 1st inning. The Reds gave their tired pitching staff more than enough runs to hold on to the victory, and to save back Carrasco for the State Championship "If" Game the following day. It was now down to a one-game, winner-take-all Championship Game, and the Reds had Carrasco on the mound, but facing the heavily-favored Class 5A team that frequently was ranked in the top 2-3 teams in the entire state in the spring.
State Championship Game:
Eaton 4, Greeley Central 2
1st Inning: Carrasco induces 3 groundouts, stranding a runner on 1st base after a two-out walk, Meyers then hits a one-out double and Carrasco singles him in to take the lead, Reds lead 1-0
2nd Inning: Carrasco allows a walk that comes around to score on a two-out single, before Carrasco ends the top of the inning by inducing an infield popout, Yarber then leads off with a single and then with two outs, Wiederspan singles and Smith singles to knock in a run, Reds lead 2-1
3rd Inning: Carrasco retires the side in order, and then Hughes hits a one-out solo home run, Reds lead 3-1
4th Inning: Carrasco strands runners on 1st and 2nd base with a strikeout and an infield popout to end the scoring threat, the Reds are then retired in order, Reds lead 3-1
5th Inning: Carrasco gets two quick outs, and then after a walk and single, induces a groundout that he fields himself to end the inning, Meyers hits a one-out double and Carrasco singles him in for another insurance run, Reds lead 4-1
6th Inning: Following a two-out error and two straight singles that cut the Reds' lead to just two runs, Carrasco gets the next batter to pop out to Meyers to end the top of the inning, Hagen then hits a two-out single but is left on base to end the inning, Reds lead 4-2
7th Inning: Carrasco gets the first batter to pop out to Hagen, then he strikes out the next batter on a 3-2 pitch, and then gets the next batter to ground out to Thompson to end the game and earn the Reds the State Championship, Reds win 4-2
Game Highlights: Carrasco was "the man" and outpitched both of Central's more revered pitchers as he got out of every inning, stranding 9 runners on base by coming through with his best pitches whenever he needed them to get out of a jam. Meyers hit 2 doubles and scored twice, while Hughes' solo home run and Smith's and Carrasco's RBI singles accounted for the Reds' scoring.
Note: In 1997, the dynamic was much different than today, the Reds had only two spring State Championships, and had won a total of 2 Legion B State Tournament games (games, not titles) over their 3 previous appearances at Legion B State dating back to the 1980s. The Reds hadn't even qualified for Legion B State since 1993, and won more Legion B State Tournament games in this one Tournament, than in the Reds' previous 30 years. The Reds were a great small school team, but Greeley Central was consistently ranked in the top 5 teams in Class 5A, having recently earned the #1 ranking. This was more like beating Cherry Creek's or Rocky Mountain's top team, than it was like watching a current battle between the Reds and Greeley Central.