2013 CHSAA 4A Baseball Semifinals – Valor Christian and Durango

So it was totally bizarre.  Last week when I shot the 1A Baseball State Championship game at All-Star Park in Lakewood I got there about an hour and a half before the game and the parking lot was packed, so I decided to head over to the field a bit earlier. I got caught in some traffic and construction on the way, but I still arrived about two hours earlier.  There was no one there.  I saw a couple grounds crew people, but I saw no CHSAA people, no teams, no fans and the parking lot was empty.  I started wondering if the game was suppose to be at All-City Stadium instead, which I did not know where that was.  So, I got out of the car and walked to the gate, which was open, and I stuck my head in.  Finally saw a CHSAA official who waved me in.  I asked him if we were still having a noon start and he said yes, but he was obviously concerned because no one was there.  Evidently, there was a pretty major accident on one of the highways that delayed the teams getting to the field, but they did and we did get started around noon.

For this post I will not post photos between a recap of the game.  I will talk about the photos as I get to them, but I want to recap a little here at the start.  First of all, next to basketball, baseball is my favorite sport to shoot.  Soccer is catching up, but baseball is my sport when it comes to the outdoors.  Maybe it has to do with my family connection to the Cardinals, going to my first pro baseball game with my dad, or just playing catch with my brother growing up.  I do not know, but I love it.

Today was a double header, so I decided I was going to set up my remote camera on top of the third base dugout.  I put it close to home, pointed at third, to catch runners coming around the bag, or close plays at the bag.  I got some good shots, but nothing special.  I used my classic 1D with my 70-200 2.8.  I also decided to shoot from the top of the dugout for the first inning to get a different perspective.

It ended up being a great game.  Durango jumped out to a 2 run lead in the first, and Valor Christian tied it up in the bottom of the second plating two of their own.  A home run from Valor Christian was awesome.  It just went and went.  It was not the longest home run for a high schooler I had seen, but it was still very impressive.  Valor tacked on 3 more runs to take a 5-2 lead into the top of the fifth inning.  Durango tied the game up in the top of the fifth with three runs, but then the Eagles from Valor Christian unloaded, plating 4 runs in the bottom of the fifth.  In the top of the 6th the Demon’s tied the game up at 9 to 9, but the Eagles added 3 more runs in the bottom half.  So, going into the final inning trailing by 3 runs, Durango was in trouble.  They were able to get a run, but that was it.  Valor was set to play Saturday morning against either Pueblo West or Mountain View.

It was a beautiful day, but a noon start was bad for photographers.  The colors pop, but with hats and helmets, you end up with nasty shadows on the players faces.  And, the infield dirt at this stadium added color reflections to the players, causing a red cast on the players faces.  I actually think it was a combination of the bright dirt and sunburns.  When you look at the photos, I could have corrected the facial skin tones, but if I would have done that, then all the other colors, the dirt, the grass, the sky, all of it would have looked odd.  So, here you go, enjoy the photos.

May 24, 2013 - Durango Demon's starting senior pitcher Ty Elliott (4) delivers a pitch against Valor Christian in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Durango Demon’s starting senior pitcher Ty Elliott (4) delivers a pitch against Valor Christian in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

The shot above is taken from on top of the dugout with my Canon 7D and my Sigma 120-300 2.8.  I really like this angle, as it cleans up the background very nice, and the way the pitcher throws his head back a little, I was still able to get his face as he threw the ball.  I would have stayed up here longer, but a foul ball towards my direction and nothing protecting me in this location, I decided to move.  I would love to see the stadium change this a little.  Make it easier for media to get onto the top of the dugout and add a short fence for protection.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) gets the first out at 2nd in a double play attempt against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) gets the first out at 2nd in a double play attempt against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

The shot above is the start of a double play attempt.  Shooting it from the third base side is not the ideal location to shoot from.  In fact, I had a chance to get the second baseman jumping over the base runner as he slid in, but the shortstop ran in and made my focus jump.  If I was on the 1st base side I could have got the jump.  Luckily, the ball was tossed to the second baseman just perfect for this shot.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior pitcher Daniel Butler (20) delivers a split finger pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior pitcher Daniel Butler (20) delivers a split finger pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

I love getting shots of the pitcher from all angles.  I like close ups like this with them just starting their delivery.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) tosses the ball to junior Kyle Robbins (12) as they get Durango Demons junior Blake Dunlap (3) trapped in a pickle during the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) tosses the ball to junior Kyle Robbins (12) as they get Durango Demons junior Blake Dunlap (3) trapped in a pickle during the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

Pickles can offer some great shots too.  Unfortunately, shooting at such a large aperture to get a fast shutter speed, my depth of field was very narrow.  But even with the narrow depth of field, you can tell the second baseman is throwing the ball to the third baseman, and the runner is trying to beat it out.  The runner was out on this play.

May 24, 2013 - Durango Demons junior catcher Isiah Mayberry (15) tags out Valor Christian senior Greg Popylisen (3) in a play at the plate in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Durango Demons junior catcher Isiah Mayberry (15) tags out Valor Christian senior Greg Popylisen (3) in a play at the plate in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

I prefer remote cameras for plays at the plate, but there is not a good location to set up a remote for plays here.  Directly behind home plate would have given my the chance to get the face of the runner, catcher and get the umpire in frame too.  But I think this angle still works.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian junior Justin Falls (5) connects with a pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian junior Justin Falls (5) connects with a pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

I moved over to the first base side for this shot.  Ideally, having the ball on the bat would be better, but, I love the facial expression here.  If the media box was a bit more protected, I would have gotten down to the ground to get up under his helmet some to see his eyes.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior Daniel Lund (14) slides across home plate against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior Daniel Lund (14) slides across home plate against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

This is kind of a funny shot to me.  The slide at home was not needed.  There was no play at the plate.  The ball was cut off, but the runner, even with the catcher too far away to make a tag, decided to slide home, missed the plate but slapped at it with his hand as he slid by it.  Nice dirt flying, no one in the way, but still makes for a nice shot.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior pitcher Daniel Butler (20) delivers a pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior pitcher Daniel Butler (20) delivers a pitch against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

I moved to behind the backstop to get some head on shots of the pitchers.  The backstop fence is a much thicker metal than most backstops, and the links were a bit smaller.  I used my 120-300 at an aperture of 2.8 in order to throw the fence out of focus.  I manual focused on the pitcher and shot away.

May 24, 2013 - Durango Demons junior pitcher Ben Wiley (23) delivers a pitch in relief against Valor Christian in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Durango Demons junior pitcher Ben Wiley (23) delivers a pitch in relief against Valor Christian in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

Same goes for the above shot.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian junior Hayden Gerlach (23) puts the bat on the ball against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian junior Hayden Gerlach (23) puts the bat on the ball against the Durango Demons in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

Almost a ball on bat shot.  It was a hit, but the batter sure got jammed on this pitch.  Another shot that I wish I could have been closer to the ground to shoot.

May 24, 2013 - Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) tags out Durango Demons junior Sean Blanchard (7) in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

May 24, 2013 – Valor Christian senior second baseman Daniel Lund (14) tags out Durango Demons junior Sean Blanchard (7) in the CHSAA 4A Semi-Final game at All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado

Someone told me that baseball is boring.  The reason it is one of my favorite sports to shoot is there is something going on at all times.  It is more than just batters and pitchers.  You need to keep your eyes open and keep shooting.

Thanks for looking and to view and purchase photos from this game, please visit MaxPreps.

 

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