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Collegians capture MHCBL tourney title

BY JEFF LETOFSKY | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUL 24, 2018

Connor HughesConnor Hughes

The Spradley Collegians are champions.

Late Sunday night, Pueblo's local summer college team won the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League, needing two championship games to pull it off.

By winning the tournament, the Collegians qualified for the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., which starts this week. But the team voted not to participate.

"We were injury-riddled with key players and felt it would not be a good showing of our talent level to play in the NBC," Spradley coach Tony Pechek said. "The league is either taking a secondary team or an all-star team. If that happens, a few of our players may play. They've been contacted and they'll go and participate."

While the Collegians aren't going to represent Pueblo or the league at the national tournament, winning the MHCBL tournament was quite an accomplishment.

Seeded No. 3 in the eight-team tournament in Johnstown, Spradley won its first two games to reach the championship, defeating the Fort Collins Bandits 10-0 and the Northern Colorado Roughnecks 5-2.

They lost to the Denver Chaos in the initial championship game, forcing a second title game.

They won that game 5-4, called after five innings because of rain and an unplayable field.

"The Chaos came out of the loser's bracket to get to us," Pechek said. "They played seven games in a row. Kudos to them."

Pechek was ecstatic over the performance of his team, not only in the tournament, but all season.

"It was an amazing season," Pechek said. "The most fun team to coach in my four years because of the personalities. I didn't have to worry about them not showing up to play. Every single game we had a different person who stepped up."

The Collegians finished 19-11.

Pechek pointed out a couple players who had outstanding seasons.

"James Jenco threw our first game in the tournament and gave up one hit through five innings," he said. "Rocco Arguto battled through adversity and had a quality start in the second game despite not having his best stuff.

"Lucas Quimby was amazing in our leadoff spot and Brandon Maes and Taylor Puga were solid behind the plate. And Brennen Gurule stepped up on the mound and in the field. And Connor Hughes had great offensive days for us."

Pechek wanted to give credit to his sponsors, including Spradley. He also was complimentary toward the Loaf 'N Jug feeder teams from Runyon Field and the high school coaches.

"This program has grown off the success of all the Loaf 'N Jug programs," Pechek said. "It makes my recruiting life easy. They are getting kids to the college level. And much of our success comes from the high school coaches and their programs."