Leftfielder Brady Buehler had a two-run double and shortstop Austin Howell added a two-run single during a five-run Valor Christian second inning Sunday, and the Eagles went on to beat Evergreen 7-3 at Metro State and claim their second consecutive Class 4A state title.
Catcher Noah Kuzma doubled to drive in Howell with the final run of the decisive inning, and after Evergreen fought back with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to close within 5-3, Kuzma added another RBI double in the top of the seventh and then scored on Joel Pierce’s double to give the Eagles breathing room.
Evergreen had come from behind to beat Valor Christian 7-5 on Tuesday at Metro State, becoming the final undefeated team remaining in the double-elimination tournament. But then the Cougars lost 12-9 to Thompson Valley on Friday, lessening their margin for error.
Evergreen was awaiting the winner of Saturday morning’s Valor Christian-Thompson Valley game — which turned out to be Valor Christian — but that Saturday afternoon title game was postponed to Sunday because of the inclement weather that struck between games.
And this time, in the rematch, Valor Christian didn’t let the lead disappear.
In determining classifications in the 2016-18 “cycle,” the Colorado High School Activities Association considers Valor Christian’s four-year enrollment to be 934, and Evergreen’s to be 1,056.
The cutoff enrollment between 4A and 5A is at 1,357, not taking into account the percentage of boys and girls in a student body, so both co-ed schools in the 4A title game were well under that figure. Valor Christian plays “up” a classification in football only, but there is a possibility it will take the same step to 5A in other sports.
Valor Christian has won football titles in seven of the past eight seasons — four in 5A (2012, ’13, ’15 and ’16), two in 4A (2010 and ’11) and one in 3A (2009).
Compared to that, two baseball championship trophies is a small collection, but the Eagles managed to pull off a repeat title despite major graduation turnover from the 2016 team.