Seventh-inning homer earns MCHS win

'Dogs advance to second round of districts

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Moffat County's head baseball coach hasn't sweated the twelve, one-run games that his team has won this year, and junior Chris Field showed why Tuesday against Delta.

Field relieved senior Rob Satterwhite on the mound, getting the final out of the seventh inning with a fly-out to left field.

In the bottom of the inning, he waited on two curveballs before getting a pitch to hit a fastball that resulted in a game-winning, three-run homerun.

The shot gave the Bulldogs a 6-3 win over the Delta Panthers in the first round of district play.

It is the only playoff game where the 'Dogs will have a home-field advantage.

"I'm not usually put in that sort of situation," Field said, of stepping into the role of a game-winning hitter. "I usually get up on deck, and the game's won before I get a chance to bat."

The Bulldogs first-round win in the district tournament comes on the coattails of a two-game sweep of the Western Slope Conference champion, Glenwood Springs Demons.

The strong regular season finish for Moffat County, along with their big, first-round win in the tournament, has been proof enough of the team's integrity for Coach Kip Hafey.

He said the Bulldogs' ability to hold on and win games has been a proud trademark of the team.

"If you were to look up 'guts' in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of 'Dogs baseball," Hafey said. "It gets more like that every close game we play these kids will never give up."

The Bulldogs' will-to-win has not only earned them the win in one-run games, it has taken them to the top of a season that had the potential to go downhill early on.

The 'Dogs (13-7) rescued their season from a slow start after losing four of their first six games. They were able to come back and win 11 of their last 14 games.

Much of Moffat County's chemistry in the last half of the season has come from Hafey's manipulation of the batting order. The game of musical hitting has managed to bring most of the Bulldogs' bats alive at the end of the season, and the same held true against Delta.

Along with Field, two other Bulldogs hit home runs against the Panthers.

Shane Burum hit a solo shot in the first inning to start the scoring, and Mark Turner repeated with a blast in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3.

"We're at a peak right now, and we haven't slowed down," Field said. "We're really hitting the ball now, and that's not been one of our strong points this season."

Moffat County's pitching has remained sturdy throughout the season. Those who have adorned the mound this year have, in many cases, stepped into the role from other positions.

Satterwhite's seven strike-out schooling of the Delta hitters is an example. Satterwhite is usually pad-clad, and behind the plate as the team's catcher.

Some of the pressure on the pitching will be relieved with the return of left-handed pitcher Jerod Estey. Estey has not played since the April 8 game against North Park, when he injured his shoulder trying to beat a pick-off play at first.

"It's good to have Estey back, it's going to be big having a lefty back in the rotation," Hafey said. "We have complete faith in him, and our other pitchers as well."

It is still undecided if Estey will get his chance to return in the 6 p.m. second-round game at Montrose.

Also biding for mound-time will be Field and Shane Burum, while further review of Montrose's game plan will determine who will throw on Friday.

Hafey has been preaching a one game at-a-time philosophy with success, and that will remain the same through the semi-final rounds, and perhaps even farther.

"The guys didn't even ask about who we play next after we won today, which tells me they're really focused in on each game," he said. "This is were we want to be, worried with what we have to do right now."

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