The Manitou Springs baseball season came to an end as the Mustangs lost their first two games of the Class 3A state tournament in Greeley.

After falling behind to University early on Friday, May 27, the Mustangs (18-8-1 overall) pulled ahead thanks to a 2-RBI single from Davis Mack. But the lead couldn’t hold up. The Bulldogs responded to get a 5-3 win and put the Mustangs one loss away from elimination.

That loss came the next day as Manitou fell to Bayfield 11-4, ending a roller-coaster season that resulted in the first state championship appearance since 2016.

Although he had dreams of taking the team deeper into the tournament, coach Brandon DeMatto hopes that this season can serve as a foundation for what the baseball team should expect year in and year out.

“The success that we had was something that we’re extremely proud of and want to continue to replicate,” DeMatto said. “For our kids, they’re proud to be a part of a program that has the opportunity to get to the state playoffs year in and year out.

“We’re hoping that what we’ve done so far, and what this year came to be, kick-starts a cycle of us being in those meaningful games at the end of the year.”

The Mustangs will lose a handful of seniors in Mack, Tate Christian, Ethan Boren, Christian Cashdollar, Eligh Hettle, Alex Hanson and Raymond McCaskey.

For three seasons (the 2020 season wasn’t played due to the COVID-19 pandemic), those seniors helped the Mustangs battle to reach a level of success that the program hadn’t seen in some time.

“We were always such a good team, we just kept falling short,” Mack said. “The fact that we made it this year, that we got past regionals, was big for us. We always believed we were a good enough squad.”

A solid core returns to the team next year, anchored by seniors-to-be Andrew Rhodes and Tyler Maloney. Other starters who will be back include Jake Thomson, Nate Gentzel, Canon Feist and Hayden Martinez. 

Having a lot of that continuity coming back is crucial, considering that the team dynamic is a big reason that DeMatto cites for the overall success this year.

“This is a year that our team gelled more as much as it has ever gelled in my career,” DeMatto said.

“A lot of that is attributed to the hearts and passion of the seniors we had this year. That leadership and drive and motivation to improve daily is something our program will miss. But we have a lot of young talent that got some great experience this year.”

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