Rifle Bears battle back from early deficit to down Bruins | PostIndependent.com

Rifle Bears battle back from early deficit to down Bruins

Joelle Milholm
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” When one of his teammates broke his 34-inch aluminum bat in the middle of Tuesday’s game against Cedaredge, Rifle’s Asa Fix had to go back to using his old bat.

It was a bit shorter than his previous stick, but Fix didn’t have a choice.

Turns out the shorter bat enabled Fix to swing it faster and crush a ball over the 325-foot sign on the left field fence. Fix’s homer gave the Bears two insurance runs in the sixth inning on their way to a 7-3 nonleague victory over the Class 3A Bruins.

Fix reached base on an error in the first inning, then grounded out to second base in the third before bringing his old bat out of his bag. He then slugged a two-run single in the fourth before going deep in the sixth.

“I felt a lot better today than I did against Thomas Jefferson (Rifle’s last game) when I didn’t do too well,” he said. “But I saw it (the ball) pretty well today.”

Fix led the team with four RBIs, while he and leadoff hitter Zach Whitmore were the only Bears to get two hits.

“He is a good hitter,” Rifle head coach Troy Phillips said of Fix. “… If he is patient enough to wait for good pitches, he will probably hit them hard most of the time.”

Some fielding errors hurt the Bears (4A) early, allowing Cedaredge to score twice and take a 2-1 lead after three innings.

Then the Bears grabbed their first lead of the game in the fourth inning, taking advantage of Ryan Rebhan and Zach Whitmore getting walks and Dwight Cerise being hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Alex Haynes and Fix smacked back-to-back singles to bring three runs around and put Rifle up 4-2.

Cedaredge threatened in the top of the sixth when the Bruins led off with a double and managed to load the bases with no outs. Then the Bears buckled down on defense, and with a little luck, didn’t let Cedaredge cross the plate. First Haynes struck out a batter for the first out, then in a bizarre pickle, the Bears tagged out a Bruin heading for home. Rifle ended the inning when Ernesto Mendoza caught a pop fly to third base.

Daniel Maldonado added one run for the Bears when his sacrifice grounder scored Kory Kassak to put the Bears up 5-2.

The Bruins gave Rifle a scare again in the seventh inning when their first two batters got on base, but Haynes erased any thought of a Cedaredge comeback by striking out the last three hitters looking.

Kyle Bond got the win for Rifle on the mound, going five innings and giving up two runs, three hits and two walks while striking out five. Haynes pitched the final two innings for the save, allowing one run on three hits and one walk with four strikeouts.

“Our pitchers did a great job today,” Phillips said. “They really helped us out a lot.”

Phillips was happy with the Bears’ win, but not with some of their mistakes, like leaving nine runners stranded.

“We still have some things to work on, but we are getting better every practice, every game,” he said. “I think the thing that hurt us the most was missing out on some clutch hits, because we left a lot of guys on base.”

Up next for the Bears (3-2) will be a doubleheader against Eagle Valley on Saturday in Rifle. The games will open up Rifle’s 2008 Western Slope League season.

“They have a good team,” Phillips said of Eagle Valley. “I know they have some good pitchers, so it should be a good battle.”

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