Different tourney name, same result for Bears
Rifle won its first high school summer baseball tournament under head coach Troy Phillips last month on its home field.But the Rifle Wooden Bat Tournament was a four-team affair and the Bears were the favorite going in against other teams that play in Class 4A during the spring season.The Dakota Ridge Wooden Bat Tournament is a different story. The field features eight teams – six 5A squads and two 4A teams, including Rifle.The result, however was the same.Eli Snead pitched a complete game and added in five RBI offensively, as the Bears took down Dakota Ridge 12-3 in the championship game Sunday.”This is the most excited I’ve been about winning a tournament,” Phillips said in an e-mail. “This tournament is filled with some of the top 5A teams in the state, as well as one of the best 4A teams in the state. We have never won more than one game at this tournament in the past. For our team to win the whole tournament is a great accomplishment.”Rifle finished the tournament with a 3-1 record, lifting its summer mark to 16-5. The Bears opened the weekend event against Ralston Valley, which finished third in the Class 4A state tournament in the spring high school season. Brandon Leuallen pitched a 9-0 shutout in the game that was called after five innings due to the tournament’s eight-run mercy rule.Leuallen, however, was just one of the stars in the contest, according to Phillips.”It was the best game any of the teams I’ve coached in 10 years have ever played,” he said. “It was as close to perfection as we have ever come. Our defense was flawless, not making a single error, and making several difficult plays. We also picked off two runners and got a lot of timely hitting and stolen bases.”Rifle’s only stumble in the tournament came in a 4-3 loss to Pomona in the second game of pool play, but the Bears rebounded nicely as Adam Krick tossed a 6-0 complete-game shutout. Rifle’s solid defense put the Bears in the title game after pool play. With three teams tied atop the pool standings, Rifle advanced by virtue of allowing just four runs in the first three games. Rifle travels to play a doubleheader against Moffat County today starting at 5 p.m., then comes back for a home doubleheader against the same squad on Saturday.
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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.