Bears wrap up best summer season
The Rifle Bears summer baseball team didn’t finish up the season exactly how it would have preferred, but still managed to put together the best summer campaign ever under head coach Troy Phillips.The Bears went 0-6 at the sixth annual Pure Baseball Classic Wood Bat Tournament in Ogden, Utah, wrapping up the season with a 20-11 record. Of the 11 losses, only two came against Colorado teams.”This group of players I’ve had to coach this spring and summer is the best team I’ve ever coached,” Phillips, who has coached the high school squad for a decade, said in an e-mail. “I will miss those who are moving on to college next year.”And it looks as though at least a few players will be playing at the next level. Phillips said Brandon Leuallen plans to play at Trinidad State Junior College next season. Matt Jones and Adam Krick are leaning toward playing college ball at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely and Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, respectively.Although the Bears went winless in Ogden, only one game was a blowout.”The other games I didn’t feel like we played really good or bad, just kind of average,” Phillips said. “It would have taken some really good play for us to win any of the games. The teams we played had the best pitching and defense we’ve played all season. In six games, the opposing teams we played made a total of two errors, and one of those was on a pickoff attempt.”That’s saying something about the competition, considering Rifle was one of the most technically sound teams in the 4A Western Slope in the spring.The other four teams in the tournament were based out of Utah and Nevada, generally drawing from much bigger schools than Rifle.Still, other than an 11-1 loss to Coronado in the tournament’s final game, the Bears were in nearly every game. Four of the games were separated by two runs or fewer.Rifle lost to the Northridge Canes (Layton, Utah) 2-0 in the tournament opener and fell 5-1 to the same squad later in the tournament. On the second day the Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to Weber, Utah, and suffered a 4-3 loss to Coronado (Las Vegas). Another Las Vegas squad, Silverado, handed Rifle a 5-3 loss before the Bears ended the season with the disappointing loss in a rematch against Coronado.”Despite the losses, the trip was a very valuable one for our players because they learned just how important the little things are when playing in tight games against good teams,” Phillips said.The players who aren’t moving on to college will need to retain the lessons learned for some time. With the summer season over, the next organized baseball comes in the spring high school season.
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