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Grand Valley meets Dolores Bears in semis

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CORTEZ, Colorado – Grand Valley baseball coach Jeff Bradley doesn’t pretend to know much about Dolores, his team’s District 2 Tournament semifinal opponent.All he knows is that the Bears, whom Bradley’s Cardinals will take on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Cortez, absolutely terrorized the 2A San Juan Basin League this year, racking up an 8-0 league record. They fared well against other competition as well, as evidenced by a 17-1 overall mark. “Honestly, I’ve just looked at their record,” said Bradley, whose school is a good four-hour drive from Dolores. “They play a lot of New Mexico and Utah schools. we don’t get a chance to see them play at all. That’s a long ride for a ballgame.”What Bradley did spot on Dolores’ season ledger was a 40-2 win over Ridgway, which certainly caught the eye of the Cardinals coach. The Bears, led by three players (Daven Valdez, .566; Andrew Hill, .532; Brett Brunner, .531) with a substantial number of at-bats hitting above .500, are averaging 12.6 runs a gameThe Bears’ numbers aside, Grand Valley itself has played solid baseball this year. The 10-3 Cardinals, led by pitchers Tyler Jensen and Tyler Radel, finished second to perennial powerhouse Paonia by going 4-2 in the 2A Western Slope League.If a Dolores-Grand Valley district matchup sounds familiar, it should. The schools clashed in the semifinals last year at this time, with the Cardinals winning, 7-1, in Grand Junction and advancing to regionals. If Grand Valley can again beat Dolores, it’d move on to face either the SJBL’s Nucla or the WSL’s Paonia in a 2 p.m. final. Nucla and Paonia square off at noon in a Saturday tripleheader at Cortez, which is serving as the SJBL’s chosen host. The SBJL and WSL switch off who hosts districts yearly.If Bradley has any concerns entering the weekend, it’s that his team hasn’t seen as much of the diamond as he’d like. Weather cost the Cardinals six regular-season games.”Weather really hurt us more than anything,” he said. “I’d love to be able to play three or four games before Saturday. … We might be missing, in six games, 20 at-bats per kid. That’s a third of a season right there.”


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