The Fowler High School baseball team entered the Class 2A State Tournament as the No. 15 seed. But the Grizzlies were ready for the challenge, scoring two big wins in the Region 4 Tournament Saturday at Pueblo's Runyon Sports Complex's Hobbs Field to advance to the state Final Four.
The Grizzlies started the day by pounding second-seeded Hotchkiss, 12-2. They then defeated seventh-seeded Dawson, 5-1.
"We knew that we had a chance," said Fowler coach Mark Lowther. "You never know with the seeding and we've played a lot of good teams this year. We saw a lot of good pitching and that helped prepare us for this point."
Fowler 12, Hotchkiss 2
The Grizzlies jumped on the Bulldogs early by scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Quinton Flanscha led off with an infield single and Gabriel Proctor walked. Jackson Bates had a bloop single to shallow right field, and an error on the play allowed Flanscha to score.
Fowler scored another run in the second. Zane Denton had a lead-off double and he went to third as Drew Egan reached on a fielder's choice. Denton came home on Flanscha's ground out for a 2-0 lead.
The Grizzlies added to the lead with five runs in the fourth. Braxton Bates started the rally with a single and he went to third on a single by Flanscha. Hunter Mason doubled home Bates to increase the lead to 3-0.
Proctor also doubled to drive home Flanscha and Mason. Jackson Bates singled home Proctor, and Luke Bitter singled to score Bates and Fowler led 7-0.
The Grizzlies scored four more runs in the sixth. Mason led off by drawing a walk and Proctor was safe on an error. Jackson Bates also reached on an error and Mason scored on the play.
Proctor came home on a wild pitch, and Bates scored on Bitter's single. Bitter then took third on a wild pitch, and Denton received a base on balls. Denton was caught in a rundown between first and second, but Bitter scored on the play and the Grizzlies led 11-0.
The Bulldogs scored their only runs in the sixth. Jesus Macias was hit by a pitch, Presley Pene singled, and Jamison Yanish walked to load the bases. Marvin Guererque singled home Macias aad Pene to cut the Hotchkiss deficit to 11-2.
The Grizzlies scored another run in the seventh. Flanscha was hit by a pitch and he took second on a wild pitch. Proctor's single plated Flanscha to wrap up the scoring.
Johnathan Mobbley was Fowler's starting pitcher and he got the win. He allowed no runs and three hits and he had seven strikeouts, four walks and two hit batters.
Denton finished the game and he gave up two runs and three hits and he struck out two, walked one and hit one batter.
Fowler had 12 hits and was led by Flanscha, who went 2-4 with one RBI; Proctor, who went 2-4 with a double and three RBIs; Jackson Bates, who went 2-4 with two RBIs; and Bitter, who went 2-4 with two RBIs.
Fowler 5, Dawson 1
The Grizzlies were the home team in the second game, but Dawson scored its only run in the top of the third. Donovan Muniz received a base on balls and he scored on Tucker Heroux's triple.
Fowler quickly took the lead with four runs in its half of the third. Flanscha started the rally with a double and Mason reached on an error. Jackson Bates walked to load the bases, and Flanscha tied the score as Mobbley got hit by a pitch.
Bitter singled home Mason and Bates, and an error allowed Mobbley to score and the lead grew to 4-1.
The Grizzlies scored another run in the fifth. Mobbley was safe on an error, and a later error put Bitter on base and Mobbley scored on the play.
Denton started on the mound for the Grizzlies against Dawson and he was the winning pitcher. He allowed one run and six hits and he had one strikeout and two walks.
Flanscha finished the game and he gave up no runs and no hits and he struck out two and walked one.
The Grizzlies collected six hits and they were led by Proctor, who went 2-4. Bitter led in RBIs with two.
Grizzlies to play Rye in semifinals
Fowler (14-9) will play in the Class 2A Final Four on Saturday and it will face a familiar foe in third-seeded Rye.
"Rye's a good team, Lowther said. "We competed with them for a while and it shows that we had a strong league with two of the top four teams remaining out of the Santa Fe League."
In the other semifinal, top-seeded Peyton will take on 12th-seeded Wiggins.
The Grizzlies and Thunderbolts will play at 10 a.m. at the Runyon Complex's Andenucio Field, while Peyton and Wiggins will play at the same time at adjacent Hobbs Field. The winners will play in the championship at 1 p.m. at Hobbs Field.
Fowler 12, Hotchkiss 2
Fowler 110 504 1 — 12 12 1
Hotchkiss 000 002 0 — 2 6 1
Mobbley (W), Denton (6) and Bitter. Pr. Pene (L), Yanish (4), Gonzales (7) and Shaw.
Fowler 5, Dawson 1
Dawson 001 000 0 — 1 6 6
Fowler 004 010 x — 5 6 2
Moll (L), Muniz (4) and Dodge. Denton (W), Flanscha (6) and Bitter.