Rifle holds off Glenwood Springs’ rally | PostIndependent.com

Rifle holds off Glenwood Springs’ rally

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Like all good rivalries, when Glenwood Springs and Rifle face each other anything can happen.

Tuesday was a perfect example when the Demons fought back from a 15-0 deficit in a game that seemed sure to be ended by the mercy rule and came within two runs of the Bears. That’s when Glenwood’s comeback ran out of fuel as Rifle hung on for a 17-15 victory.

“We kind of let it go in the later innings, and we shouldn’t have done that. It feels good to walk away with a W, but just the way it came, it should have been over in the early innings,” said Rifle first baseman Ernesto Mendoza, who went 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

The Bears were hitting the ball hard to start the game with 12 hits in the first four innings including home runs from Mendoza and Alex Haynes. In the middle of the fourth inning, the Bears were up 17-3.

Then the Demons mounted their comeback. Chad Sommers got things rolling with a two-run triple to kick-start a five-run fifth inning. In the sixth inning, Luke Jacobs got things started with a solo homer, and the Demons scored five more runs with help from back-to-back RBI singles from Patrick Hailey and Mario Gonzalez to cut the Bears’ lead to 17-13.

“We started really well, kind of continued what we did in Palisade,” said Rifle head coach Troy Phillips. “Then I made some changes and that’s when we started falling apart. Some guys came in and didn’t do the job in the outfield and on the mound that inning and let them get back in the game and it kind of spiraled from there.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Jason Whiting hit a single up the middle to score two more runs and bring the score to 17-15.

Glenwood’s comeback attempt also got life from Taylor Larson and Whiting as the two combined for three shutout innings in the fifth, sixth and seventh on the mound for the Demons.

Then the Bears brought in their ace Kyle Bond. While he gave up two runs in the sixth inning, he struck out the side in the seventh to get the save and preserve Rifle’s win.

“It was good to see him come in in a clutch situation like that and just know that he could fire it past guys,” Phillips said. “He did a great job.”

Glenwood had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the sixth with Whiting and Gonzalez on and Ben Zeimann, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, batting, but a long fly ball ended Glenwood’s hope.

“That was a crazy roller-coaster ride,” said Glenwood head coach Eric Nieslanik. “We had our chances at the end, I thought we had the momentum, but we just didn’t have it”

For the Bears, the win put them in a tie for fourth place with a 7-5 record with Delta, who will come to Rifle for a doubleheader on Saturday to close out the regular season. The two games will be huge as only the top four teams from the Class 4A Western Slope League advance to the postseason.

“It all comes down to if we want to make the playoffs,” Phillips said of the Delta doubleheader. “I thought we may have been out of it about a week ago, but it all comes down to Saturday. Hopefully they’ll play relaxed, just to have fun and not get too tense.”

For Glenwood (4-8 WSL), the rally showed that despite the Demons’ struggles this season, the character and attitude is there.

“The way we came out to play tonight was not good … and then to be down 15-0 and come back and show a little face and put some runs on is outstanding,” Nieslanik said. “You got to give the guys credit for that.”

Glenwood Springs will host Palisade on Saturday for a WSL doubleheader that will conclude its season.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User