Colorado River Valley Little League team wins District 1
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – One out away from earning Colorado River Valley’s first appearance in the Little League Junior boys state tournament, Jake Statler stared at the long fly ball to center he just allowed to Cortez hitter Dakota Goossen and hoped.
“I was thinking, ‘Don’t go over the fence,'” he said.
Statler knew that if the ball remained within the yard’s confines that teammate Ryan Moeller would catch it.
“I had confidence in Ryan because he’s caught a lot of balls out there,” said Statler, who held Cortez scoreless in his two-thirds of an inning to preserve CRV’s 8-5 lead – and clinch the District 1 tournament title.
While Statler knew prior to Tuesday’s finale that he’d be called in from second base should the situation arise to bail out starter Danny Bartels, the scenario the incoming Rifle High freshman faced would like have much older pitchers hiding in the dugout.
Bartels was spelled on the mound after his pitch count reached 90, the maximum tosses a youngster can make per Little League rules.
The move appeared to favor Cortez, which an inning earlier had cut Colorado River Valley’s 8-3 advantage to within four.
Statler, with one down, took the mound and retired his first hitter on an infield fly.
The next batter, Goossen, proved to be more of a problem. He was one of three Cortez batters who had two hits in the game. Included in Goossen’s ledger was a two-run single in the second inning.
Thanks in part to Statler’s work at the plate, it was as close as CRV got to falling behind.
Up 6-3 after a three-run, third-inning rally, Statler drove a nail into the hearts of his opponents when he punched a single to center that scored Hunter Hassenburg and Triston Quigley in the fifth.
“I needed to go up there swinging and not looking to walk,” he said. “I was just trying to make contact.”
Five pitches into the at-bat, Statler connected. Two innings later, he got the final two outs as well.
CRV, based out of Rifle, had to win five straight games to claim the double-elimination tourney’s title.
A second-round loss to neighboring Three Rivers Little League dropped the squad into the elimination bracket. Once there, team manager Bob Statler said his players appeared to thrive.
“In the five games we came back and won, we never trailed,” he noted. “It’s hard to call them a baseball team as much as they are a bunch of boys who are really competitive. They love to pay. Once they were in the loser’s bracket and had to play five nights in a row, that was right up their alley.”
The next task awaiting CRV is a trip to next weekend’s state tournament, which league officials say will be in Rifle as District 1 holds the hosting rights.
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