Baseball Bears win District Tournament
The Rifle Bears celebrated the District Baseball Tournament championship Saturday, on their home field.
Coach Troy Phillips and his Bears now will move on to the 4A Regionals next weekend after finishing off Montrose Saturday morning in the District title game at Cooper Field.
The Bears, who fell behind 6-5 after four innings, came back to beat Montrose 12-7, adding the District title to the regular-season championship of the Western Slope League.
Owen Madison and host of Bears paced the offensive attack. Madison was 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs-batted-in.
Nick Krick had two doubles and drove in two more for the Bears.
Jesse Holgate, 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in two.
Taylor Arbaney added an RBI. and Jason Enewold was 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored.
Brad Pace and Danny Fedirko shared the pitching duties for Rifle in the championship game.
Fedirko finished the last 3 2/3 innings and allowed only three hits and one run.
Kick led the Rifle defense with a number of diving plays. He recorded seven assists from his shortstop position.
Rifle went up 3-0 after two innings, only to have Montrose tie at 3-3.
Rifle then went ahead 5-3 before the Indians countered with three runs in the top of the fourth for a 6-5 advantage.
Rifle immediately answered with the go-ahead rally and two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bears added four more in the bottom of the fifth.
Rifle won for the 13th consecutive time and improved to 18-3 overall.
The Bears assured themselves a position in the Regionals with a 5-3 win over Palisade on Friday.
And the Bears had to endure a disastrous fourth inning where a Rifle infield error and a hit batter led to three unearned Palisade runs.
Plus the Bears missed a chance for a big inning after scoring a much-needed insurance run in their half of the fourth.
A leadoff home run by Holgate in the first, along with RBI hits by Arbaney and Scott Van Slyke, plus a bases-loaded walk issued to Madison allowed Rifle to build a 4-0 lead entering the fourth.
The lead allowed Rifle starter Enewold to cruise through three scoreless innings. The pitcher recorded four of the six strikeouts he had in the game during that span.
Enewold had a spot of trouble back in the first. But, he managed to wiggle out of the jam without a run..
Leftfielder Josh May came to the aid of his teammate with twisting catch of a fly ball, which he turned into a Bear double play.
May started the play on a lunging, backhand grab off Cory Dickson. He then promptly fired a relay toss to shortstop Krick, who had ventured into the outfield on the play.
Krick completed the play with a strong, accurate throw to first baseman Blake Barth for a force on Palisade baserunner Mark Widegren, who had mistakenly thought May would not reach the ball.
Enewold continued mowing down Palisade hitters in the fourth before Matt Grise’s two-out single. A Rifle error, after a passed ball, scored a run. Back-to-back singles produced two more Montrose runs and the Bears lead slipped to 4-3.
The final out of the inning was an adventure all its own.
Not satisfied with driving in Palisade’s third run, batter Michael Embrey hoped to turn his RBI-single into an extra-base hit.
A sliding Embrey was erased at second on Madison’s tag on a play that involved throws from May, catcher Van Slyke and Fedirko for the inning-ender.
Madison’s two out, opposite-field double turned into Rifle’s fifth run of the game when Palisade shortstop Bobby Brannon’s wide throw on a May dribbler pulled Caster, the Bulldogs’ first baseman, off base.
Enewold slammed the door shut on Palisade after the fourth, giving up one hit in the remaining three innings while not allowing a Bulldog runner to get beyond second base.
Rifle’s pairings in the Regionals will be announced on Sunday or Monday, pending completion of the other 4A District tournaments.
Staff writer Phil Sandoval contributed to this report.
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The 40th annual Demon Invitational track and field meet takes place Saturday, May 15 at Stubler Memorial Field.