Rifle baseball team shuts out Coal Ridge in 4-0 victory
Playing just their second game of the young baseball season, the Coal Ridge Titans were looking to get into the win column on Wednesday night against the rival Rifle Bears in a nonconference game at the Deerfield Park Sports Complex in Rifle.
Unfortunately for the Titans, the Bears proved to be rude hosts, as the home team would score all of their runs in the first two innings of play en route to a 4-0 victory on a damp and chilly March evening.
Coal Ridge, coming off a 10-3 road loss at Hotchkiss on Tuesday night, could never quite figure out Rifle starting pitcher Connor Gould. Through all of his four innings of work in the game, Gould would keep the Titans’ bats relatively silent as he gave up just one hit, while striking out four Titan batters on 48 pitches.
The entirety of the Rifle run support for Gould would come in the first and second innings, as the Bears jumped out to a quick 4-0 advantage.
Junior Eddie Medina was the first baserunner of the evening for Rifle when he reached first base on a Titan throwing error. Rifle shortstop Derek Wagler then stepped to the plate and dropped a single into left field. Medina would score when an infield hit by Gould was misplayed by Coal Ridge pitcher Jared Lund. Randy Starks grounded out to end the inning, but the Bears had forged ahead 1-0.
The bottom of the second inning proved to be the biggest offensive output of the evening for either team as the Bears would put a 3-spot on the scoreboard.
Senior Cody Ray drew a walk from Lund to get things going for Rifle. Sophomore Andres Vega then slapped a hard hit liner to right field as the Bears began to mount a charge. With the clouds lying low over the Bookcliffs, senior Luke Ellis smoked a double up the middle of the field, and Medina followed that with a double of his own as Rifle took command of the game.
Other than the decisive second inning, Lund pitched a solid game for Coal Ridge. The Titans could never seem to put any consistent offensive pressure on the Bears to support their sophomore hurler. That is until the top of the sixth inning, when things almost slipped away from Rifle.
With Ellis on the mound in relief of Gould, Titan Branson Simpson started off the sixth by reaching first on an infield error by the Bears. What was to follow would be more critical than Rifle could ever imagine, as Wagler would drop back into shallow left field to grab a fly ball off the bat of Lund for the first out of the inning. Equipped with a rocket arm, Wagler caught Simpson in mid-flight trying to get back to first base safely and proceeded to gun down the Titan runner for the second out.
Ellis wasn’t quite out of hot water just yet as he would issue a walk to Jake Whitaker, and then watch as sophomore Jared Whitaker lined a double down the left-field line. When cleanup hitter Ryan Kotz walked, the bases were loaded for the Titans as sophomore Sean Mooney stepped to the plate with his team’s fate resting squarely on his shoulders. It was not to be for Coal Ridge, though, as Mooney’s foul territory popup just outside of the first-base line was cradled in by Rifle’s Wyatt Warfel, and the Titans’ comeback hopes had been dashed.
Wagler took to the mound to close out the game for the Bears in the seventh inning as Rifle reached .500 for its overall season record at 3-3. Coal Ridge now sits at 0-2.