Bears rally, top Demons in 8th |

Bears rally, top Demons in 8th

Gabe Marbas of Rifle floats midair as he prepares to throw to first base to complete the double play, while Keifer Brocker of Glenwood Springs begins to slide into second at Deerfield Park in Rifle. The Bears went on to win 6-5 over Glenwood Springs in eight innings.
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

RIFLE — Glenwood Springs High School’s baseball team showed on Tuesday how much it has improved over the course of one season. The Rifle Bears showed the Demons how to get better as a game wears on.

Layton Stutsman drove in the game-winning run with hard grounder in the bottom of the eighth inning for Rifle, which rallied from a two-run deficit late in the game for a 6-5 Class 4A Western Slope League victory at Deerfield Park.

“This was a huge win for us,” veteran Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “Every game we play from here on out is critical when it comes to potentially reaching the postseason.”

The victory kept the Bears (7-4 overall, 4-3 4A WSL play) in the hunt for one of the league’s three berths in the Class 4A state playoffs. And Stutsman was a big part of that, going 3-for-5 with three singles.

His infield grounder was counted as an error for Glenwood — one of eight fielding miscues by the Demons during the game. It allowed the winning run to come across the plate and capped the Bears comeback from a 5-3, sixth-inning deficit.

“The thing that I liked the most was that we put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. We were having a lot of trouble popping the ball up in the air before this,” Phillips said. “We did have our share of strikeouts, too, but it definitely shows we’re making progress.”

Bailey Hoffmeister got the pitching win for Rifle, throwing 2 1/3 innings in relief of starter Dalton Bornholdt. He finished with one walk and allowed just two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Chase Nieslanik, after pitching five innings against Roaring Fork on Saturday, threw seven innings against the Bears on Tuesday. He struck out six and allowed two earned runs, but ended up not factoring into the decision.

Nieslanik helped himself out in the top of the fifth inning, though, hitting a three-run home run to give the Demons (5-3, 2-1 league) a 4-3 lead. Glenwood tacked on another run in the sixth, but the Bears rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on three Glenwood errors.

“We have come so far since last year,” said Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik, whose team lost by 10-run mercy rule in each of its two meetings with Rifle last season. “I told the guys after that game that we’re going to compete against good teams now, and we’re going to find a way to win these games.

Keifer Brocker finished 4-for-5 batting to pace the Demons’ offense.

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