Bears hold off Bulldogs for 6-5 win
The Citizen Telegram
RIFLE – In a classic showdown between Rifle and Moffat County, the Bears used a suicide and an assassin to deal a death blow to the Bulldogs’ title hopes.
It came down to the final innings before Rifle secured a 6-5 win Thursday, to keep its grip on the Western Slope League lead.
With the Bears leading 6-5, ace pitcher Jason Enewold slammed the door on the Bulldogs final three hitters, striking out all three on 15 pitches.
Hitting 90 mph on the JUGS gun, Enewold rebounded from a 3-0 count on Danny Torgerson to sit him down on a blazing fastball. After another strikeout, Enewold dropped in a nasty curve to strike out Eric Bastow and end the game and kill the Bulldogs’ title chances.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Enewold struck out 20 Bulldogs in a 6-4 nine-inning win for the Bears.
Rifle is 14-3 and 9-1 in league play while Moffat County is now 11-6 overall and 7-3. Both have two games remaining on the schedule.
Even with Enewold’s heroics the real star of the mound was Adam Krick, who was making just his second start of the season. The sophomore struck out eight and gave up nine hits in five innings of work.
“He really came through for us,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “I was hoping to just get five innings out of him so we could save some of our other (pitchers).”
In the fifth, the Bears got the insurance runs they needed, thanks to a clutch pinch hit, a gutsy call from Phillips and perfect execution of a suicide squeeze bunt.
Pinch hitter Chappie Cook lined an RBI single to center off Estey, who had just relieved Bastow. Scott Van Slyke moved to third on the hit and scored on Shane Fazzi’s perfect bunt down the first base line.
“I don’t call a lot of suicide squeezes,” Phillips said with a smile. “But we’d worked on it all week and the situation was ripe for it.”
Fazzi, who had three RBIs in the game, didn’t get the perfect pitch to handle but he knew what he had to do. “It was up in my eyes and inside,” he said about the pitch. “I just thought, get it down and don’t pop it up.”
Van Slyke had a double and single, and scored three runs in the game.
The Bulldogs made it close in the sixth, helped by a of a couple of Rifle errors.
Trailing 6-2, Jared Estey, who was 2-for-3 from the plate, ripped a double to score Bastow. Estey then scored on an error, and Jon Bugay hit a sacrifice fly, scoring the third run of the inning to cut the Rifle lead to 6-5.
With two outs, Enewold relieved Owen Madison, who had relieved Krick in the inning. Enewold got Joe Padon to ground out to Nick Babler at first to end the threat.
The Bulldogs threatened in nearly every inning after the second but Krick and the Bears always limited the damage.
Krick said the jitters went away the more he pitched.
“I was really nervous,” Krick said.” After the first I felt a little more comfortable.”
Bastow poked a clean single to left to get the Bulldogs on the board in the fourth but they would leave the bases loaded after Krick got Nick Goodenow to ground to Madison at second to end the threat.
Even after giving up a towering home run to Tad Behrens in the fifth, Krick dug in and recorded the last two outs via the strikeout.
Van Slyke crossed the plate in the second on a Bulldog error for the Bears’ first run. In the third, the Bears took full advantage of Bastow’s control problems. Madison and Enewold were both hit on curves that refused to curve, then, with the bases loaded, Kip Jessup got an RBI when he was walked. Fazzi laced a single to score two more runs and give the Bears a 4-0 lead.
The win was just what the Bears needed going into Saturday’s regular season finale at Delta. With the Bears at 9-1 and Delta at 8-1 with three games remaining, the doubleheader will decide the league title.
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Area prep basketball teams begin their 2019-20 campaigns with tournament action both home and away this weekend.