Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (2024)

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Johnson retires on top after 52 years

Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (1)byJim Benton - Special to Colorado Community Media

Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (2)

Marc Johnson repeated several times on June 1 as his players were celebrating at Keli McGregor Field in Lakewood that winning the Class 5A state baseball championship was not about him.

But in reality, it was about him.

Johnson was greeted by family, friends, former players and the media after the Cherry Creek Bruins won the state championship for the ninth time under the legendary Johnson, who is retiring after 52 years as the Creek baseball coach.

Creek had to defeat Regis Jesuit twice on June 1 to capture the title.

Regis beat Creek 3-0 in a championship bracket semifinals on May 25 in the double-elimination tournament setup. That sent Creek into the consolation bracket and the Bruins edged Centennial League’s Grandview 11-9 on May 31 to advance to the championship games against the undefeated Raiders.

Cherry Creek unloaded 11 hits and got solid pitching from starter Wyatt Rudden to whip Regis 11-1 in the first game. It was a sure thing that went to only five innings and forced the second game for the state title.

Junior Ryan Falke turned in a solid pitching performance in the second game and the Bruins got eight of their nine hits in the last three innings in a 5-2 victory in the contest that determined the state champion.

It marked Johnson’s 871st baseball win, the most for any coach in Colorado.

He also won five state soccer titles at Creek before he took over the baseball program. The list of Johnson’s accomplishments can go on and on when considering league championships, times in the state baseball tournament and players going to to play college and professional baseball.

Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (3)

“It’s not about me,” Johnson emphasized. “I did not want the state championship for me. This team worked so hard and wanted it so bad. It’s about them. I can’t explain it. I have no idea how this all fell into place. It’s because of the players, because of my coaching staff, because of all the people who support us.

“It’s been an awesome run,” he continued. “I’ve loved every second, every day that I’ve coached and every kid that I’ve coached. I had guys here from the 70s, from the 80s, from the 90s, from the 2000s — guys who are in the family. The Cherry Creek baseball family is large and this championship is for them.”

His current players wanted to win this year’s state title for Johnson.

“This title means so much,” said Falke. “I’m glad we could send him off with a win. You see all the following and you know he’s the best. You see the following and you know he’s the focus.”

Second baseman Brayden Yasuzawa said the underdog Bruins had Johnson on their minds.

“It feels awesome to win the state title,” he said. “Everybody was doubting us and said we were going to lose. It’s good to be a Bruin. The pressure was on us but we played our game. We won this for J (Johnson.) We wanted to give him a good sendoff.”

In the first game against Regis, Rudden gave up one run in the five innings and allowed five hits.

Eddie Esquivel scored twice, went 2-for-2 and had six runs batted in. He had seven RBIs in the two games against Regis. Connor Larkin scored three times and had two hits and two RBIs. Yasuzawa went 3-for-3.

Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (4)

Falke pitched all seven innings in the second game against Regis and allowed nine hits but only one run on Jace Fillewman’s solo home run in the fifth inning.

Yasuzawa, who was excellent in the field at second base, had two hits, scored twice and had two RBIs.

“We knew our backs were against the wall,” Johnson said. “We knew we had to win three games in a row and Regis only had to win one. I told my players, ‘There’s no team in this state that I know of that could do it, except this one.’ Baseball will humble you. I have no idea why it aligned the way it did, but I’m very thankful. They’re all special (state titles) but the last one was special since I’ve got my walking papers.”

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Cherry Creek baseball wins 5A state championship over Regis - Parker Chronicle (2024)
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