GREELEY – There was never a doubt that Berthoud was going to try and mash its way into the second day of the Class 3A baseball tournament with two wins.

So University coach Casey Miller knew he had to come up with a plan to slow down those bats.

The initial plan was Kaleb Tejada who did a masterful job of working through the early hitters for the Spartans. But he got out over his skis a little in the second inning, giving up four runs and forcing Miller to make a change on the mound.

In came Gage Viken, a crafty lefty with no fear of the No. 2 team in the state. He put the Bulldogs on his back as they got a 6-4 win at Butch Butler Field to advance to Saturday’s game between the two remaining unbeaten teams in the tournament.

More on that in a minute.

Viken threw 5 1/3 innings and surrendered just three hits, but more importantly, zero runs.

“They were hitting the ball like they do,” Miller said. “So we thought we’d go with a little different look in a sophomore lefty. Boy, he put us on his back today and it was absolutely electric. That’s why high school baseball is cool. That’s what it’s all about and I’m proud of Gage Aiken.”

But down 4-0, the Bulldogs still needed an offensive spark. It came on a bunt of all things. Scott Thompson laid down a bunt, just trying to move Isaac Dellinger over to second base, but reached as Berthoud starting pitcher Connor Jorissen overthrew first baseman Trent Jacobs.

It turned into a little league home run for Thompson which cut the Spartans lead in half. And incredibly, the Bulldogs still hadn’t registered a base hit at that point, but with a lot of ground to make up, things had to get creative offensively.

“We had to find a way to manufacture [runs] and put pressure on them,” Miller said. “So we started laying some [bunts] down and getting balls in play. It’s never easy to play in the state tournament, especially at Butch Butler. Everything comes with a higher price tag.”

The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the fifth thanks to Thompson scoring a wild pitch then Coel Croissant scoring on a Tejada sac fly.

Then Viken really started to get comfortable with his approach on the mound.

“I always trust my defense behind me,” Viken said. “Once we cut into the lead and then got ahead, it just made things a little easier.”

He retired nine of the next 11 hitters he saw to give the Bulldogs a huge Day 1 win.

At University High School, Eaton survived a scare against Forge Christian, winning on a walk-off wild pitch. The Reds then rolled to a 14-4 win over Coal Ridge – the team that had blasted Resurrection Christian 11-0 earlier in the day.

That sets up the age-old story of Patriot League rivals vying for control of the 3A tournament heading into the second weekend.

Death. Taxes. And Eaton vs. University at state.

“That was our goal, to get that opportunity,” Miller said. “They weren’t guaranteed to be there. We weren’t guaranteed to be there. We did everything we had to do to get there and they did everything they had to do. It plays out that way. It could’ve been any team on our side against any team on their side, but it happens to be us two. Todd [Hernandez] does a great job over there. THey’re a talented team and it’s just another opportunity.”

(Dan Mohrmann/