Rifle rebounds for DH split
RIFLE — Bailey Hoffmeister helped his cause on the mound with a stellar performance at the plate on Friday night. His performance, it turns out, was a big help to the postseason hopes for the Rifle High School baseball team.
Hoffmeister pitched a complete game against the Palisade Bulldogs, and his 3-for-4, four RBI performance at the plate was the difference maker on offense in the Bears’ 10-4 win that helped Rifle earn a split of the Class 4A Western Slope League doubleheader at Deerfield Park.
“He had some huge hits for us,” said Rifle coach Troy Thompson, whose team lost the opener to the Bulldogs, 15-5, in five innings. “He just had a great day for us today.”
The victory also put the Bears (10-5 overall, 7-4 Class 4A WSL) in a great position to snag one of the league’s three automatic berths in the Class 4A state playoffs. The Bears have three games remaining in league play but have an advantage over league contenders Eagle Valley (7-4-1, 5-2) and Glenwood Springs (6-4, 3-2), which have seven and nine league games, respectively, to play before the regular season ends on May 6.
“There’s still a lot that could happen,” Phillips admitted.
Hoffmeister, however, made a lot of things happen for the Bears in the nightcap against the Bulldogs (9-5, 6-2). On the mound, he pitched seven innings, walking six but only allowing only two earned runs and three hits with five strikeouts. It was his performance at the plate, however, that made the biggest difference for Rifle.
Palisade took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning on a two-run double by Troy Levinson, but Rifle’s rally started in the bottom of the fifth when Dalton Bornholdt doubled and reached third base when Ty Leba reached on a throwing error by Levinson at third base. Up came Hoffmeister, who slashed a single into left-center field to score Bornholdt and Leyba and spark a four-run inning that gave the Bears the lead for good.
“We knew that first game was gone and we had to forget about it,” Hoffmeister said. “We knew that if we played our game we could do it, and we came through with some big hits and good defense.”
Hoffmeister added a two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the sixth to spark the Bears’ five-run frame. And after his hit, Layton Stutsman and Teig Hauer each followed with RBI doubles to blow the game open.
Hauer finished the nightcap 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Stutsman was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a double and Bornholdt had two hits and to runs scored.
“We came out pretty fired up with the senior-night stuff,” said Hauer, one of five seniors who were recognized in between the first and second games of the twin bill. “In the second game, we didn’t put the ball in the air. We’ve been working for the past two weeks on putting the ball on the ground and putting it in play to put pressure on the defense. It’s paid off.”
The Bulldogs were the ones who put the ball in play in the opener. Palisade touched Hauer for seven hits and seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, helping the Bulldogs take an early 10-0 lead that they would carry into a mercy rule victory.
Levinson finished the first game 3-for-4 and scored three times, and Zane Abeyta and Andrew Bowles also scored three times for the Bulldogs. Cameron Campbell hit a three-run triple in the top of the fifth inning to spark the Bulldogs’ four-run frame, and he scored on a groundout by Bobby DeSurtis to cap Palisade’s scoring.
Rifle is off until April 25 when it plays a nonleague game at Basalt. Palisade continues league play on Tuesday when it plays at league-leading Delta.
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Longtime Roaring Fork Valley golf club professional Doug Rohrbaugh is set to play in this weekend’s Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan.