Bears split with Tigers on windy day
RIFLE — The Rifle Bears’ baseball team took to the diamond to battle the Summit Tigers on a wind-whipped Saturday on the Western Slope.
The Bears won the opener 5-4 but fell in the nightcap 8-4 to the Tigers.
In game one of a doubleheader at Cooper Field, both starting pitchers — Connor Gould for the Bears and Will Drewes — held hitters at bay, and key plays in the field kept the game scoreless for the first three innings.
The Tigers drew first blood after Gould walked the first two hitters in the fourth inning, with some aggressive base running from Summit’s Max Hess and Sammy Pothier moved them into scoring position. Summit catcher Koa Rashidi hit a sacrifice fly to deep left-center to notch the first run of the day as the Tigers took a 1-0 lead.
Gould gave up two runs in the fifth inning, and with two outs and two runners on, he was pulled and moved to right field after 4 2⁄3 innings of work. Rifle head coach Troy Phillips went to Randy Starks in relief.
After hitting the first batter he saw, Starks was able to induce a liner back to the mound to end the threat and the top half of the inning.
Trailing 3-0, the Bears started off their half of the fifth with a single from Wyatt Warfel before Colton Parsons struck out looking. Andres Vega hit an infield single, advancing Warfel to second. Luke Ellis connected for a double scoring both Warfel and Vega, and on the next at bat he was able to advance to third.
Rifle’s Eddie Medina extended the rally, driving in Ellis with a single to left field, knotting the game up 3-3. The hitting continued with Derek Wagler’s single to left field advancing Medina to second. Medina and Wagler pulled off the double steal before Gould hit a single to center, scoring Medina to give the Bears a 4-3 lead.
After surrendering the lead, Drewes was pulled after 5 1⁄3 innings of work for Summit and Hess entered in relief. After a failed sacrifice bunt by Starks, the Bears plated another run on a wild pitch before the inning ended on a ground out.
Starks faced four batters in the top of the sixth for the Bears, inducing a flyout to center and striking out another before hitting a batter. Starks got Summit’s Zach Misch to ground out to end the inning.
After the six-hit fifth inning, the Bears only managed to get one in the bottom of the sixth, as they had two runners on before the Tigers recorded two straight outs to end the scoring threat.
After Summit’s Turner McDonald got on base after a liner up the middle, and a steal, Hess reached first when his pop up fell to the dirt between first and second. On a double steal, McDonald was able to score for the Tigers, closing the gap at 5-4. Starks ended the rally by inducing a ground out to second and line drive to left field to end the game.
Starks got the victory, allowing one run on two hits given up.
With one game under their belt, the Bears and Tigers took to Cooper Field for game two Saturday afternoon in Rifle.
Rifle’s Eddie Medina got the call and Summit sent McDonald to the mound for game two. Summit took the field first as Rifle played the visitors on the scoreboard. The Bears continued with the hot bats with three of the first four batters getting on base.
Batting fifth, Starks — the hero of game one — singled up the middle, driving in two runners to give the Bears an early 2-0 lead.
Summit got off to its own hot start with a hit by Hess to lead off the inning, quickly advancing into scoring position after stealing second. After a sacrifice bunt, McDonald doubled to left to score Hess. The Tigers were able to load the bases before Medina was able to end the inning with two quick grounders, stranding the runners.
The Bears went three up, three down at the plate in the top of the second.
After striking out the first two batters, Medina began to unravel, hitting Hess and loading the bases after walking the next two hitters. Summit’s Pothier drove a pitch from Medina up the middle, scoring two runs to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Rifle escaped the inning after Cameron Kalaf lined a pitch back to the mound for the final out of the second.
The Bears were able to load the bases in the top of the third, but came up empty handed after Levi Warfel struck out swinging. Coach Phillips said the gusty conditions affected the team’s hitting and they didn’t get a few bounces that would’ve helped in the game.
The Bears made a pitching change, going to Wagler in the bottom of the third inning. After inducing a grounder for the first out, the Bears gave up a double by Andrew Reynolds. A flyball to right field by Summit’s Hess that couldn’t be tracked down by Rifle’s Gould, scoring Reynolds to make the score 4-2. The Bears gave up one more run before getting out of the inning.
Rifle’s Cody Ray grounded out to start the fourth, before the Bears got a runner on after McDonald walked Parsons. Summit’s Kalaf, playing shortstop, made a leaping catch on a line drive by Rifle’s Ellis for the out. After a single by Medina, Wagler hit a single into left field to score Parsons, closing the gap to 5-3.
The Tigers got two hits and scored one run to extend their lead 6-3, highlighted by a double from Taylor Morgan in the bottom of the fourth.
Starks walked to lead off the fifth, giving the Bears a base runner early. Will Reed hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Starks out at second. The Tigers pulled McDonald, sending Pothier to the mound in relief. Ray capitalize for the Bears on the pitching change, hitting a liner up the middle and scoring Reed to pull back within two before the Tigers got out of the inning.
The Bears gave up another run on a sacrifice fly by Pothier. The Tigers stranded two runners as the Bears ended the inning with a grounder to short.
The Bears were unable to muster any offense in the sixth, leaving two aboard and managing just one hit. Parsons then took the mound for the Bears in the bottom of the inning. After walking the first batter, he induced a grounder for the first out. He hit the third batter, giving up a single to right field to Kaiden Miller, scoring a run to give the Tigers an 8-4 lead.
Once again, the Bears got their lead-off runner on base via walk, but Vega hit a pop out to shallow left and Levi Warfel struck out. Rifle was able to get a runner in scoring position after Ray walked, but any chance of a rally was snuffed out when Pothier struck out Parsons to end the game, giving Summit the 8-4 win.