Rifle bats wake up in 18-6 win over Coal Ridge
Post Indepedent contributor
The Rifle Bears put up four first-inning runs against Coal Ridge starting pitcher Ryan Kotz and gradually pulled away from the Titans from that point on to post an 18-6 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Coal Ridge High School.
Kotz didn’t help his cause any at the game’s beginning as he issued walks to Rifle’s Eddie Medina and David Corral after hitting Randy Starks with an errant pitch to the plate. Sandwiched between the free passes for the Bears was a line-drive triple by Derek Wagler that helped the visitors take a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning.
The Bears added to their lead in the top half of the second inning when Wagler recorded his second hit of the day, Starks got aboard with a walk, and Medina cracked a double to left field, highlighting a 3-run inning for Rifle as the Bears went on top 7-0 after two innings of play.
Coal Ridge fought back to make things interesting in the bottom of the second inning. Junior Sean Mooney reached second base on an infield single and a throwing error to first by the Bears. Junior Ivan Gallardo was issued a walk by Medina, who toed the rubber for the Bears. Sophomore Colton Westphal came up with the big hit of the inning for Coal Ridge with a bases-clearing triple to center field. When all the dust had settled, the Titans trimmed Rifle’s lead to 7-4, and it was anybody’s ballgame.
But the Bears had other ideas as they put up 3 more runs in their half of the third inning. Corral walked to get things started for Rifle and ended up scoring on a sacrifice bunt by Levi Warfel and a passed ball. Coal Ridge coach Dan Larsen made a pitching change at that point, going with junior Jared Lund, who retired the side for the Titans after giving up a single to Wagler.
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Coal Ridge battled back to tack on runs in both the third and fourth inning to inch closer to Rifle at 10-6. Lund, continuing to do a good job on the mound for the Titans, held the Bears scoreless in their half of those same innings.
Lane Stecklien, Sean Mooney, and Colby Bilson came on to pitch for Coal Ridge in the final two innings of the game. It was the seventh inning though, in which Rifle would put up the 7 decisive runs that proved to be Coal Ridge’s undoing. Highlights of the big inning for Rifle were singles by Starks and Corral. Holden Stutsman added a bases-loaded single as the Bears put the game in the books.
Rifle head coach Troy Phillips and his Bears move to 1-1 overall on the season with the win. Coal Ridge, which fell to 1-1 with the loss, will be back in action Thursday with a trip to Glenwood to face the Demons.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.