Craig Trailing Palisade by two games in the win column heading into Tuesday night, Moffat County High School baseball coach Tim Hafey knew what was at stake.
A sweep of visiting Steamboat Springs, and the Bulldogs would clinch at least a share of the Western Slope League title.
For Steamboat coach Dave Roy, two wins against rival Moffat County would keep the Sailors' postseason hopes alive.
Moffat County blew through the Sailors, 11-0 and 13-1, behind back-to-back one-hitters tossed by junior Seth Lanier and senior Chris Winder, clinching its third consecutive league title.
"To have that happen is just icing on the cake," Hafey said of the pitching feat. "Those two guys were really thrifty tonight. They were around the plate the whole night. They did a great job handling business."
The Bulldogs won the title outright in 2006, split it with Palisade last season and - depending on how the tiebreaker goes this season - MCHS (11-3 Western Slope League, 14-5 overall) will have at least a split with Palisade (11-3 WSL, 13-6 overall) again.
"I've always said, 'If they are keeping score, then I'm trying to win,'" Hafey said. "You relish the opportunity to get the chance to win a championship. It's all about championships. The kids came together and are clicking at the right time."
Lanier (4-1) started Game 1 for the Bulldogs and held the Sailors hitless until Dustin Siegiel broke the team's drought with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"I wasn't really thinking about it (the no-hitter) until I gave up that hit," Lanier said. "Now, I want to just get the shutout."
Lanier threw a hard fastball, mixing in a few curves on his way to the shutout. In his six innings of work, Lanier picked up six strikeouts and walked four.
Defensive miscues plagued the Sailors in Game 1, handing Steamboat starter Alex Wood the loss, despite his five strikeouts through the first two innings.
Moffat County scored seven runs in the game's first two innings, six unearned.
Three Sailors errors were charged to right-fielder Colin Boyle, who admitted to having issues in the outfield.
"The wind was coming in right at my face," Boyle said. "I had a hard time out there."
Ahead 8-0, Moffat County scored two more runs in the sixth - one more unearned - placing the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
Winder (2-2) got the nod in Game 2, and the senior picked up right where Lanier left off.
On the mound, Winder pitched five innings of one-hit ball, striking out eight.
At the plate, Winder connected on a fastball in the first-inning, depositing a solo shot to left-center field, helping himself to a lead the team wouldn't relinquish.
Two batters later, junior Russell Waugh hit another Bulldog solo homer and when Winder took the mound in the third, the score was 7-0.
A three-run blast by senior catcher Jordan Williams in the fourth inning - his fourth in as many games - placed the Sailors again at the 10-run mercy rule.
Winder hit a two-run double and Waugh an RBI single in the fifth to account for the Bulldogs' scoring.
Sailor first baseman Cody Harris reached base on an error in the fifth and scored Steamboat's lone run of the two-game set on another MCHS error.
"We just got outplayed, out-hustled, out-hit, out-pitched, and that's what it all boils down to," Roy said. "I hate to end it (the season) like this, but that's the way it is. You've got to give Moffat credit. They play well, they hit the ball well and they just deserved it tonight."
Hafey will learn today who the Bulldogs face Saturday when postseason play begins, but he said it doesn't matter.
"It really doesn't matter to me who we play," he said. "I've seen it all. That's the thing about baseball. It doesn't matter how big you are, it's about how well you play together. We are playing really well together right now. We are going to win the first game. We are going to go with our best stuff the first game, and don't try talking me out of it. We are always playing to win."
Roy said there's "no question" he's sad to see the season finished, but he did pick up a few things for next year.
"It always goes by in a hurry," he said. "That's the way it was this year. We got a bunch of young, good guys that want to play ball. We look forward to developing that next year. We'll be back fielding, hitting and pitching - all those things that Moffat did tonight to be successful."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793, or email@example.com