Titans’ learning curve steep against Bears
Post Independent Sports Editor
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado — There’s more than a few reasons why Coal Ridge High School’s baseball team was more than willing to play the Rifle Bears on Wednesday.
It wasn’t just because of the rivalry between the schools, which is based on proximity, or because it happened to be a non-league game that both teams needed to get into the schedule. It was because the Titans are hoping to, at some point, be as good as the Bears are.
“You obviously don’t want to play a team that you can beat all the time,” second-year Coal Ridge coach Danny Petrie said after his team’s 18-4 loss to the Bears at the Coal Ridge High baseball field. “That doesn’t prove anything.
“Obviously there’s a rivalry just because it’s like we’re across town and all,” he continued. “I love the coaches over there at Rifle because we get along great. But overall, it’s good for the team.”
The game turned out to be good for the lineup of the Bears (4-2 overall), who pounded out 11 hits in a game that lasted five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. It helped Rifle rebound from Tuesday’s 7-3 Class 4A Western Slope League loss to Delta, when the Panthers limited the Bears to six hits and struck out 11 Rifle batters.
Coal Ridge (1-4) was coming off an 8-6 victory over Roaring Fork on Tuesday and had some offensive mojo going in the first inning before Rifle began to roll. The Titans were able to hang with the Bears early on, taking a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
“They’re definitely working at it,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “[Petrie] has a lot of young guys that he’s playing right now. They’re making some progress, though.”
Every one of the Coal Ridge players who took the mound was an underclassman. Sophomore Brooks Pressler threw the first four-plus innings and was replaced by freshmen Kevin Grivy, Noah Phillips and Caleb Maynard.
Two other freshmen — second baseman Jake Sollinger and first baseman Greyson Keener — combined for three of their team’s seven hits, with Keener going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“We’re real young,” said Petrie, who said he has a self-imposed, five-year plan to build the school’s baseball program into one that’s consistently competitive. “We’ll go through some growing pains this year and we’ll be young again next year. But they’re working hard and they’re learning, and that’ll get us where we need to be.”
The Titans didn’t look like a team going through growing pains in the bottom of the first inning, though.
The Bears, helped in part from a two-run homer from senior Triston Quigley, went up 3-0 in the top of the frame. But Hunter Hasenberg’s RBI single, followed by a sacrifice fly from Jerome Pazzelli, pulled Coal Ridge within a run. Cristain Corona followed with a double to put runners on the corners, and Keener followed with a two-run triple to put Coal Ridge up 4-3.
The Titans didn’t score again, though. Rifle answered in the second with three runs — the first of 15 unanswered runs the Bears scored to close out the game.
Danny Bartels finished 3-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and three runs scored, Quigley scored four times and went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Bailey Hoffmeister went 2-for-4 with a triple and four runs scored and Alex Gould added a two-run double in Rifle’s six-run fifth inning.
“Our guys had them on the ropes a little bit, and I could tell that even Rifle was worried for that little bit,” said Petrie, whose 3A team hosts a non-league doubleheader against 4A Palisade on Saturday. “This will help tune us up for the rest of our league season.”
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