Bears roll to sweep over Demons
GSPI Sports Editor
Rifle ran its winning streak to 10 games and clinched second place in the Class 4A Western Slope League with a doubleheader sweep of archrival Glenwood Springs in prep baseball action Saturday at the Glenwood Springs Middle School field.
Pitching and defense were the difference for the Bears, as Rifle won the first game 12-2 in five innings and took the second contest 12-5.
“It’s always great (to beat Glenwood), especially to sweep them” said Rifle pitcher Brandon Leuallen.
“We played really good defense,” Leuallen added. “We hit all right, but it was really the defense.”
Shortstop Adam Krick led the Rifle effort in the field, not giving the Demons any cheap trips to first base and stealing some potential hits from the Glenwood batters.
“He started a lot of double plays and made some catches on balls that should have been hits,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said.
“They didn’t mess up much,” said Glenwood coach Norm Bolitho of the Rifle defense. “You’ve got to earn your way when you play them. They don’t give you much and we need to learn from that.”
And the defensive play made everything easier for Rifle pitchers Shane Fazzi and Leuallen.
In the first game Rifle scored four runs in the top of the opening inning to give Fazzi a comfortable cushion before he even took the mound. Not that he needed much in the way of run support.
Fazzi allowed just three hits in the contest, with the only stumble coming in the second inning when Ryan Millyard tallied a two-RBI single.
Fazzi finished with five strikeouts in four innings before Matt Jones finished off the contest with a perfect fifth inning.
Uriel Quezada led the Rifle offense with his first homer of the season, a three-run shot, and finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Krick posted a 3-for-4 showing in the game, while Fazzi, Leuallen and Kip Jessup each added a pair of RBIs.
In the second game, things started out well for the Demons. Chance Stevens scored on an errant pickoff attempt and Beau Chicione knocked in Taylor Wilde for a 2-0 lead.
Rifle answered with a run in the bottom of the frame. And, more important, Leuallen settled into the game, facing just 10 batters in the next three innings.
“It usually takes an inning or two (to get going) for some reason,” Leuallen said.
Rifle scored 10 runs in those three innings, with the knockout blow coming in the six-run fourth.
The Bears had three hits in the frame and took advantage of a trio of errors to extend its lead to 11-2 and chase Glenwood starter Chicione off the hill.
The Demons trailed 12-3 headed into the seventh and final inning and threatened to make a game of it when Leuallen ran out of gas. He gave up two hits to lead off the frame, then walked the next two batters to give the Demons a run before turning the pitching duties over to Jones with the bases juiced.
Jones struck out the first batter he faced, but Chicione gave the Bears a scare in the next at-bat. The freshman came within a few feet of a grand slam, but it turned out to be just a long RBI single to the fence in left-center.
Jones got out of the jam on the next batter, enticing John Faris into a double play to Krick to end the game.
“He was close,” Bolitho said of Chicione’s shot. “We get that one and we still have some life left. It kind of typifies our season ” just a little short.”
Rifle’s Tyson Thompson was 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the game, Fazzi finished 2-for-3, and Eli Snead had a pair of RBIs.
Chicione led the Demons with a 3-for-4 showing and two RBIs, while Boyd Milhorn and Wilde were 2-for-2 and 2-for-3, respectively.
Rifle (9-2 WSL, 12-4 overall) has its final league game Thursday at 4 p.m. at Battle Mountain. Glenwood (3-9, 3-13) is through its league slate, but faces Roaring Fork on the road Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.