GREELEY – In order to get to the second weekend of the Class 3A baseball state tournament for the first time since 2017, all Colorado Academy needed was a little Love.

Colin Love’s 3-RBI double in the sixth inning put the Mustangs ahead for the first time all day and Fraser Smith retired four of the five batters he faced to earn the save as they beat University 5-4 at Butch Butler Field.

The Mustangs now await the only team in the state to have not lost a game this season. After Eaton beat Montezuma-Cortez 7-2 over at University High School, it will be the Mustangs and the Reds playing on Sunday to determine which team has the edge going into next week’s final weekend of the state tournament.

For Colorado Academy, that opportunity comes thanks to Love’s big swing.

“I felt [the solid contact],” Love said. “It felt great. It doesn’t always happen but when it does happen, it feels great.”

In a lot of ways, he was fortunate enough to even see the pitch that he drove to left field. He fouled off the pitch before and it hung in foul territory, but University catcher Dalton Yaste misplayed the ball giving Love another pitch to see. And he capitalized on the mistake.

“In that moment, there was this idea that I had no doubt in my mind,” Love said. “I know what I’m going to do and there was no doubt that I was going to come through.”

The key for the Mustangs (20-6 overall) was simply keeping the game close and striking when the opportunity presented itself.

In the bottom of the third, it looked like the Bulldogs (24-3) were finding their groove at the plate.

Connor Weber and Jacob Cruz led the inning off with back-to-back singles and both would eventually score. Same with Korey Koehler who also singled in the inning and scored on a single from Coel Croissant.

But those were final three runs that would cross the plate for University. Charlie Rakowski kept the Bulldogs mostly in check, allowing four base runners of the next 2 2/3 innings, but no runs.

“We just stick with it and allow them to stay calm and be in the moment,” coach John Putt said. “We want them to be where their feet are and enjoy playing this beautiful game.”

The game is always more beautiful after a win. The Mustangs had the fortune of chatting through the upcoming contest for a full night rather than just a couple hours after thunderstorms cancelled play on Friday.

And now they’ll chat overnight about what they need to do to slay the dragon that has been the Eaton Reds.

“We have our dude going tomorrow,” Putt said. “They’re a great team and we respect the hell out of them, but it’s the same thing. We’re just going in there and trying to remain calm and play against the game rather than play about the mighty Eaton Reds.”


(1) Eaton 7, (5) Montezuma-Cortez 2

The Panthers got to within two late, but Eaton scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, two of which courtesy of a Walker Martin home run, to put the game out of reach.

The Reds will take on Colorado Academy at Butch Butler field at 12 p.m. on Sunday.


(4) Coal Ridge 14, (25) Peak to Peak 4 – ELIMINATION GAME

(Dan Mohrmann/

The Titans put up 10 runs in the first inning, a run that got started with a Ben Simons RBI single. The Coal Ridge offense cooled down in the ensuing innings, but the early lead was too much for Peak to Peak to battle back from.

The Titans had a 10-4 lead going into the bottom of the fifth and scored four in the inning. The game-ending run scored on a George Roberts base hit that scored Simons.


Play delayed again

The weather has been the toughest opponent for all teams in Greeley. Following the conclusion of Coal Ridge’s win over Peak to Peak, play was again halted because of thunderstorms.

The decision was made to suspend play until Sunday morning. There are two elimination games to be played along with the game between Colorado Academy and Eaton, who are each 2-0.

Action will begin at Butch Butler Field at 9 a.m.