UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY – There was a moment in the locker room down in Pagosa Springs late in February where Jayden Watts was simply inconsolable after Holy Family’s Sweet 16 basketball loss.

But he had that look in his eye and you knew then and there that it wasn’t going to happen again.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon at Erdle Field in the Class 4A baseball state title game against Pueblo County – in the biggest moment of his prep career – Watts was the man.

He continued his incredible state tournament on Saturday, driving in another five runs in the Tigers’ 13-6 victory over the Hornets to finish the six games of the state tournament with 16 RBIs. He was 9-for-13 at the plate in the four games at the Air Force Academy.

“This feels great, like that empty void has been lifted,” said Watts, who screamed for joy when he recorded the final out at first base on a throw from Xavier Vega. “I have to give all my teammates the credit for this one, without them none of this is possible.”

With the Tigers up 3-2 in the third inning after Britain Fox scored on a wild pitch, Watts ripped a 1-0 pitch to left field to drive in Logan Seifarth.

It set off an offensive explosion for the Tigers, who went on to score five times in the inning to bust open the game against a Hornets team that had expended all of their pitching on Friday against Golden and Falcon just to get into the championship series.

Bases loaded walks by junior Cohen Glenn to Xavier Vega and Brady Hudson pushed across the next two runs before sophomore Isaiah Sandoval’s sacrifice fly scored courtesy runner Sam Cannella.

“I was just doing my job, honestly, that is is,” said Watts, who singled in a few insurance runs in the seventh inning. “I just try to keep it simple, especially after I struggled early in the season, these guys never gave up on me and constantly had my back.”

All of the offense was in support of senior starter Cole Kuszak, who was magnificent against the Hornets offensive prowess all afternoon. He pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up just six hits and three earned runs while striking out seven Hornets hitters.

It was championship No. 2 for Kuszak and No. 6 for the family — Ava, who was in attendance, had four during her time at Holy Family.

“Oh, come on now,” Cole quipped after he realized his two is only half of his sisters total. “This feels so good especially after last year. That really hurt a lot and one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had. Going 3-0 last weekend was huge and it felt like we were on top of the world.”

It was championship No. 3 for coach Marc Cowell and No. 4 for the program, it’s first since 2014, and one he didn’t know would necessarily be in the cards a month ago.

“We knew we had the talent, it just wasn’t quite gelling yet and then for some reason in that first game against Palisade (last weekend) everything clicked and these guys just kept it rolling,” he said. “Credit to these guys, they just never stopped.”

(Jon Yunt)