EVERGREEN — It was a playoff-game atmosphere May 5 on Evergreen High School’s baseball field.
The Class 4A Jeffco League rivalry between Golden and Evergreen was renewed with a huge conference game. The Demons and Cougars were the only two teams in 4A Jeffco that hadn’t dropped a league game yet.
When the dust settled, Golden — No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 4A rankings — captured its 13th straight victory with a 8-4 win over the Cougars.
“I didn’t have to do much to get them ready,” Golden coach Jackie McBroom said of his team playing on the road against Evergreen, who was on an 8-game winning streak coming in. “They were ready to play baseball right out of the gate. They knew what was in the line.”
Golden (17-4, 7-0 in league) took a 1-game lead over Evergreen (13-5, 6-1) and Green Mountain (14-7, 6-1) in the conference standings with two league games remaining this week.
The Demons jumped out early with a 5-run top of the second inning that was started by the bottom half of the line-up. Junior Jacob Dehm had a one-out single and senior Daine Hart followed up with a 2-run home run from his seven-hole spot to give Golden an early 2-0 lead.
“It was just a great inning with a bunch of energy,” Hart said of the 5-run fourth inning that included his 2-run home run to start the scoring. “I came up with an approach. I got a good ball and just took it.”
Hart took it over the left field fence for his first home run of the season.
“Daine had a huge hit,” McBroom said of the 2-run home run. “I’m proud for him. He is a senior who had been grinding for a longtime and fighting for playing time. He has gotten that opportunity and has definitely made the most of it.”
The Demons kept it going with sophomore Sawyer Brinkman, junior Kohei Shimada and senior Hayden Carbone crossing the plate while Evergreen starting pitcher Ryan Cook was touched up for four hits.
“It defintely helps when the bottom-half of your line-up jump starts you in the second inning,” McBroom said. “It makes it easier for Laif on the mound pitching with a lead.”
Golden tacked a run on in the third and fifth inning to pushed the lead up to 7-0 with the Demons’ ace Laif Palmer cruising on the mound having given up just three hits through fifth innings.
However, Evergreen came to life in the bottom of the sixth inning taking advantage of a the first walk by Palmer, along with two Demon errors. Evergreen senior Angie Webre ripped a 3-run home run for the big blow to cut the Demons’ lead to 7-4 before Palmer could get out of the inning.
“That bottom of the sixth inning was tough. They hit the home run, but we still had a 3-run lead,” Palmer said. “I knew I had been dealing all game and I could hold them. I knew I was going to shut it down in the seventh.”
Palmer got a shot in the arm by fellow senior Jaydon Hord before taking the mound in the bottom of seventh inning. Hord hit a towering solo home run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to add an insurance run and grab the momentum back to the Demons.
“That was just electric,” Palmer said of Hord’s solo home run. “That got us all fired up and got me ready to go out there and K three in row. That was a big moment that we needed.”
Palmer struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning to finish with 13 strikeouts. It was the Oregon State University-commit’s fifth straight win and sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season.
The next and likely final start of the regular season for Palmer will come at home Thursday, May 11, against Green Mountain where the league title could be decided in the conference and regular-season finale for the Demons.
“We are just going to focus in on the rest of league and the rest of the regular season,” Palmer said. “We want to win out and show that there is no one better than us going into playoffs. I think we all believe that.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.