Rifle sweeps Glenwood in afternoon doubleheader
Hosting the rival Glenwood Demons Saturday at Cooper Field for a 4A Western Slope League doubleheader, the Rifle Bears swept both games in the rivalry matchup, winning game one 5-4 in thrilling fashion on a walk-off balk before rolling to an 11-3 win in game two, capping off the sweep.
“It was a big couple of wins for us today because Glenwood is a very good team,” Rifle Head Coach Troy Phillips said. “They’ve played with everyone and they can play with anyone in the league. Getting two wins today was huge. Obviously, we really had to battle to get that first one; it could have gone either way. We just ended up on top. The second game I was really proud of the way they executed on the base paths by stealing and getting runners into scoring position.”
In the first game, Rifle scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, racing out to a 3-0 lead. The Bears would hold a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning, but from that point on Glenwood would score one run each in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning, tying the game at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning as senior Stephen Romero hit a double and sophomore Chano Gonzales hit a home run for Glenwood.
Rifle senior Gabe Marbas would score the winning run on a balk by Glenwood’s Cooper Cornelius, giving the Bears a hard-fought win.
In the second game, Rifle got going early on the base paths, putting tons of pressure on the Glenwood defense, which had trouble all day long in game two in the outfield due to strong winds.
The Bears would score two runs each in the first and second innings as Marbas started the scoring by driving in senior Takoda Chaney on an RBI single two batters into the game before freshman Derek Wagler would make it 2-0 three batters later with an RBI single into centerfield.
Chaney would make it 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single, driving in senior James Magnuson after a walk and a steal before Marbas would drive a ball deep to right, where the Glenwood defender had a tough time getting a read on it, allowing the ball to fall in for an error, giving the Bears a 4-0 lead two innings into the game.
Holding an early lead, Rifle would continue to apply pressure as the Bears scored five runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by senior Drake Montgomery, an error on the Glenwood centerfielder on a missed catch, a two-run double by Chaney and an RBI single by Marbas to take a quick 9-0 lead.
“The way that second game started, we were just flat and I think that the loss in game one carried over to the second game,” Glenwood Head Coach Eric Nieslanik said.
With a large lead in hand, the Bears could sit back and watch Marbas deal on the mound as the senior worked through three clean innings before allowing two runs in the top of the fourth as Glenwood’s Tristan Howe drove in the first Demon run on a groundout to short before Jake Brown followed with a single to left to make it 9-2 Rifle.
The Demons would add one more run in the top of the fifth inning as Gonzales drove in Ethan Ryan with a single to left, but the Bears would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth as Marbas led off with a triple to dead center before scoring two batters later on a Glenwood error in rightfield. Montgomery would then drive in his second run of the game with a bloop single to right, capping off the scoring in the 11-3 win for the Bears.
Marbas would get the win in game two, pitching six innings of five-hit ball, allowing just three runs without striking out or walking anyone. At the plate, Marbas finished 4-for-4 with three RBI’s, backing himself in the win.
“He’s kind of moved himself into that No. 2 role because he attacks the zone so well,” Phillips said. “He trusted his defense today, and was efficient. He only had around 60 pitches before we took him out, so he really attacked the strike zone and let his defense make plays behind him.”
For Glenwood, Davis Deaton pitched three innings, allowing eight runs (just three earned) while striking out four. At the plate, Romero finished 2-for-4 on the day with two singles while stealing one base as well.
“Davis threw a lot of pitches in the first couple of inning and got himself in trouble, but he pitched himself out of situations,” Nieslanik said. “But if we make some plays behind him we’re right in that game. I know the wind was a factor, but those are plays we have to make if we want to compete with a team like Rifle.”
With the sweep, Rifle improves to 9-4, 5-2 4A WSL on the year, while Glenwood falls to 5-7, 3-4 4A WSL. The Bears will host Delta Wednesday afternoon for a nonleague matchup, while Glenwood will host Coal Ridge.