Summer baseball laid back, but not lazy
GSPI Sports Editor
RIFLE ” Wooden bats, an extra inning “just for fun” and players taking over third base duties ” it’s all part of a day on the diamond in the summer months.
Baseball has a different feel in the summer than during the spring high school season when league standings and state tournament berths make every game a big one.
“It’s more laid back. It gets you ready for the (prep) season and improves your skills,” said Glenwood pitcher Beau Chicoine, who started in Saturday’s Rifle Wooden Bat Tournament championship game against the host Bears. “And you get to know your teammates better.”
That’s not to say players and coaches aren’t out to win in the summer months.
“You have fun while doing it the right way,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “There’s a difference between laid back and lazy. You can be more laid back, but you’ve got to do things right still.”
Rifle was certainly doing things right the past three days. The Bears went unbeaten in the four-team tournament, and the use of wood bats instead of aluminum didn’t seem to slow the Bears offense. Rifle wrapped up the championship with a 12-0 victory over Glenwood in the title game Saturday afternoon at Deerfield Park.
“It’s a lot more fun to hit with the wooden bat,” said Rifle’s Brandon Leuallen, who, despite having hit a drive to the left-field fence Friday night that likely would have been a homer with an aluminum bat, prefers the lumber. “To hit it out with a wood bat would have been a lot better” than hitting it out with aluminum.
The championship game should have been called after the Bears took a 10-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the flexibility of summer allowed for a little bonus baseball for players and fans alike.
The Bears played out the inning and the Glenwood squad, despite being the visiting team, took the last at bat of the game.
“It’s cool to be able to do something like that ” say, ‘Hey, you want to go another inning so we can all get better,'” Phillips said.
The fans were rewarded with some nice hitting and the defensive play of the game in the extra inning.
The Demons seemed to get the feel of the wooden bats after Rifle’s Matt Jones had held them scoreless in the five innings of the regulation. And Bears shortstop Adam Krick capped the extra play with an over-the-shoulder diving catch in shallow left field for a perfect ending to the contest.
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