Bears maul Huskies, sweep doubleheader
Hosting the Battle Mountain Huskies at Cooper Field Saturday morning for a doubleheader, the Rifle Bears baseball team picked up two big wins to sweep the Huskies, improving to 3-2 on the young season.
In game one against the Huskies, Rifle jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning before rolling to a 9-0 win over Battle Mountain. The Bears then walloped the Huskies in game two, 17-1, to cap off the sweep of the doubleheader.
Starting things off in the first game, Rifle sophomore second baseman Derek Wagler made a diving stop in the first inning to prevent a run, which led to the Bears pouring on four runs in the bottom of the first inning to put the Huskies on their heels.
Holding the 4-0 lead, Rifle senior pitcher Takoda Chaney took charge on the mound, cruising through five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out six batters. The senior, who signed with Augustana prior to the start of the season, did a nice job on the mound of attacking hitters while mixing speeds, flummoxing the Husky hitters all game long.
“Pitching and defense was really good today,” Rifle Head Coach Troy Phillips said. “We put up a zero, so I felt really good about the pitching and defense. We had the diving play there in the first inning that really set the tone when Derek made the play and saved a run. And our pitchers were in the zone consistently and did a really good job of challenging hitters.
“Takoda did a good job of challenging hitters early in the count and knew when to go after hitters that he knew he could overpower. His off-speed pitches were really good as well today.”
With Chaney cruising on the mound, Rifle was able to relax at the plate.
In the bottom of the third inning, Rifle stretched its lead to 6-0 as Chaney led off the inning with a walk. Senior first baseman Bryer Rew then followed with a bloop single into right field that fell just inside the line, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Senior Drake Montgomery then followed with a groundout to first, advancing the runners to second and third, setting up Wagler in a big spot.
On a 2-2 pitch, the freshman smoked a drive into deep right field for a triple, driving in Chaney and Rew.
“He’s really good,” Phillips said. “He has great hand-eye coordination and is great defensively. He works hard, too. Sometimes when you have a freshman that is that good, it can go to their head, but I don’t think we’ll ever have to worry about that with him. He knows that he just wants to get as good as he can get; that’s a special player.”
Trailing 6-0, Battle Mountain senior catcher Hunter Meier drove a lead-off double to deep centerfield in the top of the fourth inning, but Chaney would sit down the net three Huskies hitters on a flyout, groundout and strikeout to end the threat.
Rifle would then tack on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as junior outfielder Connor Gould ended a great at-bat by drawing a 10-pitch walk to start the inning before sophomore outfielder Eddie Medina reached second base on an error by the Battle Mountain centerfield to put runners at second and third with no outs.
Following Medina’s at-bat, Rifle senior outfielder James Magnuson roped a single up the middle into centerfield to drive in Gould to make it 7-0. On the throw home, Magnuson would move up 90 feet to second to put runners in scoring position with no outs still.
Senior Gabe Marbas then followed with a single to rightfield to drive in Medina, putting runners at first and third with the Bears leading 8-0. Moments later, Battle Mountain pitcher Robert Redinger attempted to pick Marbas off first base, but his throw was low and wide, forcing the Battle Mountain first baseman to block the ball. On the block attempt, the ball squirted away from the first baseman, allowing Magnuson, on a terrific heads-up play, to race home from third to give the Bears a 9-0 lead.
Holding a 9-0 lead, Chaney looked to cruise through the fifth inning, but following a strikeout of the first Battle hitter, the ball got away from Rifle sophomore catcher Randy Starks, putting a runner on first base.
Chaney would then walk the next batter to put runners on first and second with no outs, but the senior lefty battled back on the next two hitters, inducing a strikeout and an infield flyout before Gould came up with a huge play in rightfield.
Battle Mountain sophomore shortstop Joey Beveridge would line a single into rightfield. On the play, the Battle Mountain third base coach waved home the runner from second, but an outstanding throw from Gould arrived well ahead of the runner, leading to an easy tag from Starks to end the inning, preserving the shutout.
The Bears looked to end the game by the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth as Wagler and junior Luke Ellis started the inning off with a single and a screaming double into left centerfield to put runners on second and third with no outs, but strikeouts by Gould and Magnuson, as well as a groundout by Medina ended the threat.
The Huskies would then look to get on the board in the top of the sixth inning against Montgomery, who took over for Chaney after five excellent innings of work. Against Montgomery, Battle Mountain would start the inning off with back-to-back singles to left by Meier and Redinger before Montgomery was able to induce a double-play, largely thanks to runner’s interference on Redinger with the slide at second base that took out Ellis on the relay of the attempted double play.
Following the double play, Montgomery then shut the door on the Huskies by striking out the next hitter, stranding Meier at third.
Once again looking to end the game with the 10-run rule, Rifle started the bottom of the sixth off with walks to Starks and Chaney. Senior Alan Munoz then popped out in foul ground to Beveridge before Montgomery smoked a groundball to short for the fielders choice, putting runners at first and third with two outs.
Wagler then looked to end the game, but the freshman got too much of the ball, ripping a line drive right to the centerfielder for the final out of the inning.
Montgomery would then make quick work of the Battle Mountain hitters in the top of the seventh inning, striking out the side to end the game.
In game two, it was senior Blaine Vance’s turn to come through with a great performance on the mound. The senior pitched all five innings of the 17-1 win, allowing just three hits and two walks.
With Vance shutting down the Huskies, the offense caught fire, led by Chaney, who went 2-for-3 with four RBI’s, while Marbas came through with a triple, sac fly, walk, hit by pitch, three runs scored and two runs batted in for the Bears.
Rew also had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two stolen bases and a walk.
Wagler finished game two with a double, two walks, two runs scored and one RBI, while Medina went 2-for-2 with three runs scored, a walk and two stolen bases for Rifle.
The Bears will return to action Wednesday, March 29 with a road game at Coal Ridge High School against the Titans at 4 p.m.
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