Moffat County High School baseball coach Kip Hafey, armed with a revamped batting line-up, blazed his way across the high plains of Utah to the town of Roosevelt and to the Bulldogs' first victory since March 24.
Saturday's 7-3 win against Union High School stemmed from a two-out rally in the third inning when the new clean up man, junior Shane Burum, drove a single to left center and allowed senior Kevin Voorhees to score from third base.
Burum's single hit for a run was just the beginning of the Bulldogs' scoring streak. Senior C.J. Rugh waited for his pitch and walked, sending sophomore Jerod Estey home. After that, junior Chris Field hit a well-placed single that allowed Burum and Rugh to score.
"We regained some of our rhythm in this game," Hafey said. "It helped us shake off the two conference losses."
The Bulldogs went on to win the game against a solid Union team, and improved their season record to 3-4.
Moffat County scored in the fourth, sixth, and seventh innings to hold off Union's three-run attack late in the game. Team prosperity at the plate helped solidify Hafey's changes in the bottom half of the batting order, swaps which meant every single Bulldog batter in spots four through nine took a different place in the team's order.
An unaltered pitching rotation had Field adorning the mound. He allowed only two earned runs and struck out eight batters during his tour. The Union game marks Field's second complete game this season, and Saturday's performance will help him maintain a state-low ERA of 3.34.
The rebound in Roosevelt, with an experimental line up, came at a pivotal time for the Bulldogs. The away game fell after a double header against Battle Mountain was rained out on Friday, and before taking to the highway for a two-game road trip this week. Moffat County will travel into the lion's den twice, playing against Rifle (3-3) Tuesday, and against Glenwood Springs (4-2) Thursday. Glenwood Springs and Rifle are the top two teams in the Western Slope Conference (WSC).
"It will be one of our most difficult weeks this year, and it will test how we're shaping up for the second half of the season," Hafey said. "The team really believes in what we're doing (strategically), so we're confident that we can get back in conference running."
The batting order will remain the same for the bouts against the two top teams, but the question of who will pitch is yet unanswered. The top two candidates for mound duty are regulars Estey and Field, but senior catcher Rob Satterwhite may come out from behind the plate.
The Rifle and Glenwood games play an important role in the Bulldogs' quest for a conference title. They will be a chance to avenge Moffat County's home-opener loss to Rifle, and make a statement to WSC leader Glenwood.
"There's still a lot of time left for us to comeback in the season, but we need to feel a sense of urgency, a sense that we need to start racking them up in the win column," Hafey said. "The WSC is hectic this year, so you just don't know how it will end up."
There is a chance the 'Dogs may host a game at 4 p.m. today against Class 3A Middle Park (3-2), but it will likely be canceled because of the weekend's inclement weather.