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Rifle ready for challenge of regional tournament

Phil Sandoval

Winning one game in the state regional baseball tournament is a tough enough assignment. But, prep teams wishing to advance to the next rung of the Class 4A state tournament have an even harder task.

Any one of the four teams in Friday’s Region 1 tournament, which includes Rifle, has to win two games in one day to advance to next week’s 4A semifinals.

The Bears open regional play against 17-5 Pueblo Central at 12:30 p.m. The winner from that game plays the survivor of 10 a.m. contest between Centaurus or Sand Creek at 3 p.m. for a semifinal berth.

Rifle was seeded ninth among the 16 teams in the classification still alive in the state playoffs after last week’s districts. Pueblo Central is the No. 8 seed.

The one-day, single-elimination format of the regional tournament puts a premium on pitching.

That’s an area where the 18-3 Bears are well armed.

The Bears have six pitchers, all with game experience, on their 13-player roster.

Senior Danny Fedirko and Junior Jason Enewold are Rifle’s main starters. Both pitchers have identical 6-0 won-loss records with earned run averages of 2.50.

If either starter falters, seniors Brad Pace (2-0) or Nick Krick can bail the Bears out of a potential jam.

Rifle has plenty of sock to go along with their pitching depth.

Second baseman Owen Madison is one of four juniors on the Bears’ starting nine.

He leads the team with a .485 batting average. Infielder Blake Barth is among the 4A state leaders in runs batted in with 27.

Pueblo Central counters with two strong pitchers of their own.

Senior Chris Brown is unblemished so far. He has a perfect 4-0 record with 50 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched. Jon Carrillo, a junior is 3-1 on the year with a 2.92 ERA.

The semifinal round on May 17 pits the Region 1 champion against the Region 2 winner at All-Star Park in Lakewood. Semifinal winners play for the 4A state title the next day at All-City Stadium in Denver.


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