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Game(s) of the Week: Holy Family baseball in 4A Final 8

May 22—When and where: Double-elimination tournament in 4A classification starts Friday, with No. 5 Holy Family facing No. 4 Palisade at 9:30 a.m. at the Air Force Academy.

The scouting report: The Tigers (18-5-1), back in the 4A state tournament for a fifth time in six seasons, start with Palisade, a team it beat and tied during a March doubleheader. Ten years since their last state title, they're now aiming for the program's fourth.

Getting here, they ensured they were one of the eight regional hosts with four straight wins to close the regular season, then they beat Skyline and Pueblo Central last weekend to advance to the classification's Final 8.

A pitching staff with a 3.15 ERA has led the way this spring.

Seniors Brady Hudson and Cole Kuszak have thrown 97 2/3 of the team's 151 innings and figure to share the bulk of the work against 4A's best. Hudson allowed a career-worst five earned runs in the regional title game, but still owns a 2.83 ERA and is 6-2 over a team-best 52 innings pitched. Kuszak has a 3.37 ERA, holding opposing lineups to a .210 batting average.

Yet Holy Family's newfound closer may be its secret weapon. Junior Dutch Van Dale (1.68 ERA in 16 2/3 IP) was dominant in shutting both regional wins last weekend. He hasn't allowed a hit in six of his 10 appearances on the mound this season.

As for the Tigers' offense, they're hitting .326. Last time against Palisade, on March 22, senior outfielder Rylan Cooney drove in four runs over two games as the Tigers won 9-3 in Game 1, and tied 7-7 after eight innings in Game 2. Cooney leads the team with 24 hits this spring.

Logan Seifarth, meanwhile, leads the team with 23 RBIs, though he doesn't have one over his last four games. On the year, the junior, hitting .377, slugging .688, has hits in 17 of his 24 games.

The Bulldogs (19-5-1) counter with sophomore Kian Kinslow, who is hitting .471 with 17 extra-base hits and 39 RBIs.

The winner of Holy Family-Palisade will face either No. 1 Windsor or No. 8 Thompson Valley on Friday afternoon. An opening round loss will send a team into the consolation side of the bracket, which starts Saturday.