Palisade beats Rifle in comeback win
GRAND JUNCTION – The best way to learn about baseball is to see how a team faces tough situations. And, to Rifle’s credit, the young guys on the 2006 Bears roster refused to quit.”We talked about a lot of positives,” said Rifle coach Troy Phillips after Palisade posted an 8-7 comeback Western Slope League win in the bottom of seventh inning on Tuesday. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that after a loss,” the coach continued. “But there were more positives than negatives because of the fact we let some runs get away from us. But the guys didn’t give up.””You have to give Rifle a lot of credit,” said Palisade head coach Mike Krueger. “They hit the ball hard from the get-go and came out of the box swinging it. Troy does such a great job with his kids that we had to play well.” Taking a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, Rifle (1-3, 2-6) was in position to break the game open after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth. Then Palisade starting pitcher Cory Swetnam slammed the door shut.
After plunking Uriel Quezada with a pitch, the Bulldog senior induced a momentum-killing double play on Zach Whitmore’s tapper back to the mound with a force out at the plate on Bryce Enewold, followed by an alert toss to first baseman Jordan Guenther ahead of the Bear sophomore.A hitter later, Rifle was sent out to play defense. And the Bulldogs’ bats, which Bears pitcher Eli Snead had kept silent, came alive.In its half of the fifth, Palisade sent nine hitters to the plate, bashing out five runs on five hits. Jesse Widgren, who wound up scoring the winning run, gave Palisade its first lead of the game with a bases-loaded double to the left-center fence.A Guenther single extended the inning. It allowed Palisade designated hitter Matt Monger, who had homered in the second, to make his second big play. Monger wrapped his second hit of the game to center field. Trying to keep the ball in front of him, it got by Rifle centerfielder Andrew Schmidt and rolled to the wall.
rifle: see page A20rifle: from page A19Two runners scored on the play. And Swetnam, who was on the tail-end of a 100-pitch limit, was given the green light to stay in the game.Swetnam responded with a six-pitch, one-two-three inning. His seventh frame was far from seamless.Eli Snead, whose two hits produced three RBIs earlier, smashed a long homer over the left-field wall. Quezada and sophomore Asa Fix, who relieved Snead in the sixth, each singled. Fix’s hit knocked in two runs.
“That (hit) was big,” Phillips said of the sophomore’s hit. “He got a clutch hit that kept the inning going and ended up scoring the tying run. That’s a huge thing for a kid that age to make that quick adjustment and stay in the game.”Swetnam added fire to the Bears rally when he hit Charlie Anderson with a pitch to load the bags – setting the table for Bears’ DH Kyle Bond. Hitless in three earlier at bats, Bond stroked a two-out hit through the left side for a 7-all tie. Swetnam ended the threat on Matt Petree’s infield grounder.With one out, after one low Fix pitch, Widgren stroked the ball to the right-center gap for a triple, barely eluding Quezada’s tag in the process. Phillips responded by intentionally walking the next two Palisade hitters to set up a force at home.Alex Bauer pieced a hole in that strategy when he singled to left for the game-winner.”I think this game is going to help us a lot as we go into the latter part of our season,” Phillips said. “We’ve been getting a little better each game. We’re not too far behind some of the better teams in our league. Maybe we can catch them if we continue to work hard and keep on fighting.”
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