Spring wind torments Bears in loss to Palisade
Colorado high school baseball teams have devised ways to practice hitting, fielding and throwing.
But, as Rifle found out Tuesday, there’s no way to practice for the unpredictability of spring weather. Or Palisade’s Bobby Brannon.
A stiff wind that blew constantly during Rifle’s Western Slope League game with Palisade at Grand Junction’s Canyon View Park befriended the Bears in the top of the seventh.
Then it became their nemesis in Palisade’s half of the inning. Along with Brannon.
He hit his second triple in as many at-bats in the home half of the seventh to spark Palisade to a 7-6 comeback win over the Bears.
Ted Delessandro scored the winning run when Brannon’s wind-aided fly ball got past the Rifle outfielders.
“We’ve got some things to work on with judging fly balls in the wind,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said of the play that led to the Bears’ first league loss. “We haven’t been able to simulate that in practice … so that’s something to work on.”
Prior to Brannon’s dramatic hit, the Bears had worked themselves back to a 6-6 tie after trailing by three runs early.
Josh May’s fly ball found its way into the jet stream and the wind pushed the ball over Palisade centerfielder Mark Widegren’s head to create the tie.
The play allowed Danny Fedirko and Own Madison to score.
“Josh cam through with that big clutch hit to tie it up,” Phillips said. “But we didn’t play good defense today.”
Blake Barth scored Rifle’s first run in the seventh after getting hit by a John Hakes’ pitch.
The Bears managed to stay in the game early, despite nine strikeouts and only five hits against Palisade pitching.
After falling behind 2-0, Taylor Arbaney, who doubled and tripled in three at-bats, scored Rifle’s first run in the third inning on Jesse Holgate’s infield groundout.
The sophomore gave Rifle a brief 3-2 lead when he raced home on Madison’s RBI-single in the fifth.
Palisade rallied for a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth and took a 6-3 until Rifle fashioned the late comeback.
Starting pitcher Nick Krick went the distance for Rifle. The loss evened the senior’s record at 1-1 on the year.
Rifle falls to 2-1 in the 4A Western Slope League, 2-2 overall.
The Bears have a week before their next scheduled league game, next Tuesday at Moffat County.
Before that, the Bears will play at Middle Park on Thursday in a nonleague contest and at Denver East on Saturday in yet another nonleague matchup.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.