NORTHGLENN — Winslow Taylor got a good chuckle out of it.
Greeley pitcher Jordan Hungenberg intentionally walked State Farm’s Sean Ratliff with two out and one on in the first inning of Friday night’s American Legion A baseball tournament state final. What happened next set the tone for the night.
Taylor followed Ratliff with a two-run double to center, sparking a rally that started after two were out. Before the inning ended, State Farm had sent nine batters to the plate and scored six times. It won, 18-3, in a game shortened to 61/2 innings due to the 10-run rule.
State Farm, which features several players from the Longmont area, advances to the American Legion’s 2005 Western Region Tournament. In Las Vegas on Thursday, State Farm will play Arizona. Friday, it’ll face either California or New Mexico.
Ratliff homered twice Monday against Greeley and, apparently, left an impression. Taylor, meanwhile, said he didn’t feel extra pressure, but he admitted he harbored some extra incen-
“I can’t help but laugh at that,” said Taylor, a Niwot High graduate. “They don’t think anybody else on our
team can do any damage. But Sean, he’s earned that respect.”
The rest of State Farm’s lineup earned some Friday, too. Every starter but Ratliff had at least one hit. Mike Harpe hit a three-run home run. Joe Roth added a solo shot and four hits. Catcher Neal Finch had four hits and five RBIs. Jeff Squier drove in four.
“We swung the bats very well today,” State Farm coach Bob Bote said. “In our five games in this tournament, we scored 60 or 70 runs. That’s hard to beat.”
Ratliff, another Niwot alum and the Times-Call player of the year this past spring, struck out 13 and blanked Greeley over the final four innings. He took a ground ball off his left hand — his pitching hand — in the third inning but stayed in the game.
Ratliff benefited from rain postponements that delayed the title from Wednesday to Friday.
“I wasn’t going to pitch (Friday),” he said. “The two days of rainouts helped my arm feel great. ... It felt a ton better than it did earlier this week.”
Said Bote: “One of (Greeley’s) kids asked if we were ever going to throw somebody else against them.”
State Farm players, coaches and parents buzzed after they received their trophy and discussed logistics for the upcoming trip to Nevada. The regional round is a familiar destination for State Farm, which won it last year.
“This is huge,” Ratliff said. “Last year, we were the dominant team, and we rolled through. This year, our talent level is unbelievable.”
Said Bote: “You never know, but I think (our chances) are good.”
State Farm 18, Greeley 3
At Northglenn H.S.
W — Ratliff. L — Hungenberg.
2B — T. Roth (G), J. Roth (SF), Taylor (SF), Squier (SF), Finch (SF), Lippoldt (SF). HR— Harpe, SF (2 on in the 3rd), J. Roth, SF (0 on in the 6th).