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High hopes for Loaf 'N Jug

Loaf 'N Jug players celebrate after their win against Las Vegas during the Tony
Andenucio Memorial Tournament at the Runyon Sports Complex last summer.

Andenucio Tournament kicks off four-day run at Runyon

BY JEFF BERSCH | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 14, 2018

After what happened last year and last weekend, Mario Mattivi has allowed himself to think about what things could be like this weekend at the 39th annual Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament.

The third-year coach of Loaf 'N Jug, the local entry in the 12-team tournament, watched his team win a championship over the weekend at the Cherry Creek Classic. It was the first time a Pueblo team won the event in its 32-year history.

Last season at the 'Nuch, Loaf 'N Jug reached the semifinals for the first time under the current format. They lost there in an attempt to become the first Pueblo team to play in a championship game since 2001 or win a 'Nuch title since 1984.

"It would be a lot of fun, a blast and just amazing to see how many people would come out to the championship game if we got there," Mattivi said Wednesday. "I think there would be a lot of people at Runyon, kind of like a mini 'Pack the Park' night."

Pack the Park is the annual event each year when Colorado State University-Pueblo's baseball team plays on Hobbs Field at Runyon Field Sports Complex. This year's game against Adams State drew nearly 3,000 fans.

Before anything like that can happen, LNJ needs to put together another week like it did in suburban Denver. The team went 6-0 to claim the tournament title, beating the Cheyenne Mustangs 14-10 in the championship game.

It was an impressive run through one of the state's stronger tournaments, which drew 32 teams at its top level. Loaf 'N Jug opened with a win over host Cherry Creek, the defending champion in the 'Nuch.

"They played great," longtime Creek coach Marc Johnson said. "They had a blue-collar work ethic and got after it. They put balls in play, showed a lot of speed and just really played great.

"They played as well as any team that I've seen from Pueblo in at least 20 years."

Johnson believes a strong local team adds to the atmosphere of a tournament he always speaks highly about.

"The tournament is always good," he said, "but I think this probably creates more excitement in Pueblo. I can't say they're going to win it, but I do know they're going to compete."

Creek beat 4-Corners 6-0 in last year's championship game, earning its ninth 'Nuch title. That moved it past Elk City, Okla., for the most in the tournament's history.

This year's Creek team, Johnson said, is young and just 5-5 to this point. It does welcome back a couple players who played significant roles in last year's title game, including Riley Egloff.

Egloff, who played at Heritage High School, recently was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 36th round of MLB's amateur draft. He threw a two-hitter in last year's 'Nuch championship game.

"We graduated about 20 seniors from that team," Johnson said. "We just don't have the same players that we had."

Woodward (Elk City) certainly will bring another solid team to the 'Nuch, as will the 2016 champion Parker Lightning. Year to year, there's no way to truly tell who the favorite might be.

However, the way this year's Loaf 'N Jug squad has started, it just might be the local team.

"No, I don't want that," Mattivi said with a laugh. "There are so many great teams coming in -- Woodward, Creek, Parker, Greeley, Cheyenne, and they've all won it.

"I don't think we're the favorite. I'm just trying to keep as much pressure off these guys as possible. But moments like this could be special."

LNJ opens play at 7:30 p.m. tonight on Hobbs Field against Farmington (N.M).


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Loaf 'N Jug

Coach: Mario Mattivi, third year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 1981, 1984.

Program notables: Sam Goure, ninth-round draft pick in 1996 by Toronto Blue Jays; Davis Goure, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox; Nino Giarratano, head coach at University of San Francisco; Jeff Bonacquista, won national championship at Wichita State in 1989 and was drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in 28th round in 1985; Chris Carrillo, head coach at Otero Junior College in La Junta; Michael Dudley, played at Kansas.

About this year's team: Loaf 'N Jug is 7-0 this season, including a 6-0 mark over the past weekend to win the Cherry Creek Classic. It was the first time in the tournament's 32 years a team from Pueblo won. LNJ last season went 5-0 in pool play at the 'Nuch before soling 9-8 to 4-Corners in the semfinals. Efran Perez, who played high school baseball at East, is off to a strong start at the plate for LNJ. He is 11 for 19 with a pair of doubles and a team-best 10 RBIs. Adam Muniz also had 10 RBIs and is hitting .400 (10 for 25). Jayden Cordova is batting .471 with two triples and 12 runs scored. The team's top pitcher is Zach Hanenberg, who is from Canon City. He's 2-0, including a no-hitter in a season-opening win over a Colorado Instructional League team. He's allowed five hits and no earned runs in nine innings. Loaf 'N Jug has 21 extra-base hits this season and has scored 67 runs in seven games. "We have a group of guys who want to play for Pueblo, who want to play for each other and want to make Pueblo baseball better," Mattivi said. "This is a special group."

Coach: Ty Lain, third year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch title: 2015.

Program notables: Brandon Nimmo, 13th overall pick in 2011 by New York Mets, currently the team's starting center fielder; Pat Ferrell, drafted by Mets; Cody Farrell, played at Texas-Arlington; Tanner Renner, played at Southern Illinois; Zach Lain, played at Temple.

About this year's team: Cheyenne comes into the tournament with a 23-7 record. There is no high school baseball in Wyoming, so the le-gion team started playing together in April. The Sixers reached the 'Nuch championship game in 2015. Braxton Inniss, the tournament's MVP that season, is back for his final season with Cheyenne. He will play college baseball the Northern Colorado in Greeley. Shortstop Ryan Andren, along with Inniss, will be playing in the 'Nuch for a fourth time. Lain also said Cody Brooks, a junior pitcher and first baseman, is having a strong summer. The Sixers have allowed a run or less in eight games this season. The Sixers finished in the top eight at last week's Cherry Creek Classic. "We have a good group of guys who have been at it a while," Lain said. "We'll be ready to go."

Coach: Mickey Cornelius, 34th year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 2002.

Program notables: Chase Wright, third-round pick in 2001 by New York Yankees; Jason Jennings, former pitcher with Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers.

About this year's team: The Blacksox are a college prep program for high school players who want to play college or professional base-ball. The program began in 1976. The team has become a staple at the 'Nuch, bring a team the nearly nine hours to Pueblo for at least the past 20 years. Corneluis said this year's team has played well, although it has not won a tournament to this point. Cornelius said to keep an eye on A.J. Burney, Jace Clean, Sam Matchus, Adam Thompson, Connor Buchert, Parker Bowles and Alex Young. There also are two play-ers -- Santiago Vidal and Dubab Vivero -- wgho are from Colombia. "We always expect to do well, but sometimes that doesn't happen," Cornelius said. "It's a tough pool, a fair pool, but it's always tough. I feel like we'll compete well and hopefully make a run at the semifinals and finals."

Coach: Matt Tucker, third season.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 2016.

Most notable program alumnus: Connor Crane, played at McNeese State, now playing in the Frontier League independent baseball; Josh Huntley, played at Brown University; Travis Orwig, played at North Carolina State; Eric Olguin, played at Utah Valley State; Tanner Thomas, pitched at Utah.

About this year's team: NA.

Coach: Adam Morrissey, 11th year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch title: 1988.

Program notables: Shilo McCall, ninth-round pick by San Francisco Giants in 2012; Jacy Cave, 19th-round pick in 2015 by Arizona Dia-mondbacks; Dominic Moreno, 33rd-round pick in 2014 by St. Louis Cardinals; Jake McCasland, pitching at Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants; Damion Lovato, played at Kansas State; Kohlton Sanchez, played at Texas Tech.

About this year's team: NA.

Las Vegas
Coach: Tom Appleyard.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 2005, 1992, 1985.

Program notables: Ryan Ludwick, played 12 seasons in majors and was second-round pick by Oakland A's in 1999; Tommy Pham, out-fielder for St. Louis Cardinals.

About this year's team: NA.

Coach: Josh Mondragon, third year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 2009, 2013.

Program notables: Mike Huston, Gojo coach for 34 years.

About this year's team: Greeley Gojo Sports is 5-2 this season and placed second at the Cherry Creek non-qualifier tournament last week-end. The team includes six players from University High, which won the Class 3A state championship this season. It also includes three from Valley High, which won the 3A title in 2017. Jose Mercado was the 3A player of the year for Valley in 2017. Connery O'Donnell, who played at Roosevelt, is headed to Garden City Community College. Grayson Swanson, from University, will play at Oklahoma Christian. "We have a lot kids who have been winners, who have had a great deal of success," Mondragon said. "This is the one tournament we feel we have to go to. They bring in quality competition and it forces you to raise your play a level."

Coach: Mike McGaha.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: None.

Program notables: Jacy Cave, 19th-round pick in 2015 by Arizona Diamondbacks; Ian Doughty, played at Northern Colorado; Dominic Moreno, 33rd-round pick in 2014 by St. Louis Cardinals.

About this year's team: Much of the team, based in Farmington, N.M., played for the Piedra Vista High School. The Panthers went 23-8 and reached the New Mexico 6A state championship game. McGaha is the team's coach, and the program won state titles in 2014 and three in a row from 2010-12. The 4-Corners team last year reached the championship game of the 'Nuch, falling 6-0 to Cherry Creek. It beat Loaf 'N Jug in the semifinals. Tyler Reutschle, from Durango, and Devin Ferrari, from Piedra Vista, played this past season at Lamar Community College. Ferrari hit .301 with eight home runs, while Reutschle, a right-handed pitcher was 2-2 with two saves and struck out 63 in 45 innings. Chase Silseth, a pitcher, is committed to Tennessee. McGaha said to also keep an eye on Gavin Mestas, a senior from Durango, Tyler Duggins, Deylan Pigford and Alex Kuhn. McGaha said this year's team is short nine players from its original roster, some going to other tournaments or tryout camps. He added that the team picked up former Rye pitcher Damon Elarton and Pueblo West's Dalton Davis. "We should still be competitive," McGaha said, "and try to get into that upper part of the bracket."

Cherry Creek
Coach: Marc Johnson, 46th year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: 2017, 2004, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1987, 1983.

Program notables: Luke Hochevar, won World Series with Kansas City in 2015; Brad Lidge, won World Series with Philadelphia in 2008; Darnell McDonald, played with Chicago Cubs, Boston and Baltimore; Scott Elarton, played with Colorado, Houston, Kansas City and Cleve-land; Josh Bard, played 10 years in majors and now a bench coach for the New York Yankees.

About this year's team: Creek is the defending champion at the 'Nuch, having won a record ninth championship last year. It moved one title ahead of Elk City, Okla. Creek lost nearly 20 players from last year's team and comes into this year's tournament with a 5-5 record. Quentin Parr, Zach Paschke, Tyler Schultz, Cory Schultz and Riley Egloff return. Egloff, who helped Heritage to the Class 5A state title game, was drafted earlier this month in the 36th round by the Miami Marlins. He's committed to Yavapai, a junior college in Arizona. "We're happy to be coming there again," Johnson said. "We're going to come in and try to be competitive. Our motto is win or learn."

Coach: Mark Ward, 19th year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch' titles: 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 1992.

Program notables: Jordy Mercer, infielder for Pittsburgh Pirates; Kelby Tomlinson, infielder for San Francisco Giants; Dillon Overton, pitcher for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres; Drew Ward, playing at Double-A with the Harrisburg Sena-tors, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals; Brendan McCurry, pitching at Triple-A for the Fresno Grizzlies, an affiliate of the Houston As-tros.

About this year's team: Woodward (Elk City) returns once again, having playing in every 'Nuch tournament. The program, which has been around since 1964, is one behind Cherry Creek with eight championships. The last came in 2014. Elk City twice has won three consecutive 'Nuch championships. This year's team is 15-1 and has won 10 games in a row. That includes 11-1 and 16-0 victories last weekend over Las Vegas, the same team it will face to open the 'Nuch.

Coach: Mike Marshall.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: None.

Program notables: Blake Swihart, catcher for the Boston Red Sox; Alex Bregman, infielder for Houston Astros and No. 2 overall pick in 2015; Austin House, in minors with Colorado Rockies; Jordan Pacheco, played six years in majors, four with Colorado Rockies.

About this year's team: Albuquerque will send a new team to this year's 'Nuch, one from the New Mexico School of Baseball. The team is coached by Mike Marshall, a former major-leaguer with the L.A. Dodgers who's currently the head coach at New Mexico Highlands. The team plays as a scout team under the Washington Nationals. The team is 3-1 and played last week in the Summer Scout Classic in Arizona. Ac-cording to James Cordova, director of NMSB, pitching is the team's biggest strength. He said to keep an eye on Adrian Talavera, J.R. Bustamante, Tommy Pettis, Zach Mathis and Collin McWethy. "I really feel like we're going to be competitive," Cordova said. "We have some pretty good arms and the offense is coming along."

Grand Junction
Coach: Dave Jahnke, 12th year.
Last 'Nuch appearance: 2017.
'Nuch titles: None.

Program notables: Owen Taylor, plays at Kansas and was drafted by Toronto Blue Jays in 27th round in 2014; Geoff Baldwin, former player in Kansas City Royals organization; Arnie Beyeler, manager of New Orleans Baby Cakes, Triple-A team in Miami Marlins organization; Chris Hanks, head coach at Colorado Mesa.

About this year's team: Grand Junction again makes an appearance at the 'Nuch, which it's done every year since 2007. The team has made the semifinals twice. This year's team is 8-4 and went 2-3 at last weekend's Cherry Creek Classic. Jahnke said this year's team is young and that 18 of its 20 players would qualify for a 16-under team. The team's leadoff hitter is jared Hanks, son of Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks. Brett Wagner and Stephenson Reynolds both played at Palisade High School, which was 15-6 this season. Reynolds, a shortstop, was the 4A Western Slope Conference player of the year. "A successful weekend for us could be 3-3," Jahnke said. "With the level of compe-tition we're going to see, that would be a good weekend. But next year, with this young group, I think we could creep into competing for it."

-- Compiled by Jeff Bersch