Bears stay in playoff hunt
Post Independent Sports Editor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Rifle High School’s baseball team found ways to string together some long rallies against the Glenwood Springs Demons. Thanks to that, the Bears might be able to string enough wins together to reach the Class 4A state playoffs.
Rifle pounded out 13 hits against the young Demons, giving the Bears a chance to clinch the Class 4A Western Slope League’s final postseason spot thanks to their 11-4 victory Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Middle School baseball field.
“The guys kind of know they need to win out from here,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “We’ll have to see what happens with the other teams, but we’re hoping we can do our part to get that third spot.”
Rifle (10-6 overall, 6-5 league) is in fourth place in the league standings behind third-place Eagle Valley (8-7, 7-3), a team the Bears swept in a league doubleheader this past Saturday.
Rifle has three games remaining — against Steamboat Springs (4-8, 3-6) in Craig today, and a home doubleheader against Battle Mountain (1-14, 1-10) on Saturday. The Devils have four games left, two against second-place Delta (12-3, 8-2) and first-place Palisade (15-2, 12-0).
“We have the drive to go as far as we want to go,” said Rifle senior Triston Quigley, who finished 4-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles. “As long as we put the effort into it, we’ll be successful.”
Seven of Rifle’s hits went for extra bases, and four of them came in the Bears’ five-run fourth inning that snapped a 3-3 tie. Danny Bartels finished 3-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs, and Angel Diaz went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored to pace Rifle’s offense.
Carder Ullom finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead the young Demons (5-10, 3-7), who finished with five hits and played well through the first three innings. Ullom’s RBI single to right field drove in Pete Ray, capping a three-run frame that rallied Glenwood from a 3-0 deficit.
Rifle responded in a big way in the bottom of the fourth inning, though. Bailey Hoffmeister drew a leadoff walk off Glenwood starter Chase Nieslanik, and Quigley followed with a bloop single to right. Bartels followed with a triple to the right-centerfield gap to give the Bears the lead for good, and doubles by Diaz and Hauer followed. Wyatt Robinson capped the frame with a double to drive in Hauer, giving Rifle an 8-3 cushion.
“I really liked the way that we responded after they came back on us,” Phillips said. “That was a good thing to see.”
Glenwood did battle, though, getting an RBI double from Ullom in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull back within 9-4. But RBI singles from Quigley and Diaz gave the Bears their final margin of victory.
Diaz pitched four innings of relief of Quigley on the mound, allowing just on run and two hits with a strikeout and a walk.
Quigley pitched three innings, giving up three runs and three hits with a strikeout.
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