Bulldogs' insure spot in state play off brackets

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How sweet it is.

To be one of the 16 teams left on the road to a Colorado State High School baseball title.

Moffat County's plans to travel to state were sucured Sunday with a nearly-perfect pitching performance by junior Chris Field. Field helped lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 victory over the Montrose Indians (8-13). He allowed no walks and no earned runs in the game. The only Indian run was scored off a fielding error.

"What this team has accomplished over the year is really a testimonial to the kids' work ethic," Coach Kip Hafey said. "We get a late start practicing for our season, so the team has to be able to keep working while we're playing games to get better. The second half of the season shows that we've done that."

At the plate, two Bulldogs found their groove against Montrose.

Sophomore Joe Padon stroked his first home run of the year, a solo shot early in the game.

Senior Rob Satterwhite had a three-hit game, with one being a two-base blast.

Mulling through two days of cancellations due to inclement weather, and more than 500 miles worth of driving the Bulldogs' closed out the Western Slope Conference District Tournament.

After ensuring a slot in the state brackets with the win against Montrose, the 'Dogs played Rifle for the championship. The day's "doubleheader" ended in much the same fashion as most of this season's doubleheaders have a split decision.

The 4-1 win over Montrose was followed by 9-4 route at the hands of the Rifle Bears (12-8-1).

The Bears beat Moffat County in a huge fifth inning. The teams entered the fifth tied, but the win was guaranteed after Rifle scored five runs in the inning.

The Bears made it to the tournament championship by beating regular-season champs, the Glenwood Springs Demons.

"The kids were worn down by the time we played Rifle. We had been traveling for two days and dealt with two cancellations. The team was just mentally tired when we played Rifle," Hafey said.

The game the Bulldogs dropped to Rifle did hold a positive result despite its outcome it marked the return of left-handed pitcher, sophomore Jerod Estey. Estey pitched the majority of the game, being relieved by Shane Burum in the sixth. Though Estey didn't walk away with the win on Sunday, his return to the mound solidified his chances of seeing playing time against state-caliber teams. The coach said the sophomore is more than ready to play after a four-week hiatus due to an injury.

It is not yet known who the Bulldogs will face in the first round of state Friday because many Denver teams are finishing up district games today. What is known is that there are potential spots for games in Denver and Pueblo. Three fields will hold games in Denver, while one will be held in Pueblo.

For Moffat County, everything is fairly set as to how they'll approach state.

It will be just another game, continuing the team's one game at a time philosophy. The one mystery remains: Who will hurl in the first round? The answer will not come until the Bulldogs find out who they play and the coaches have a chance to evaluate the team.

"Right now, we have the chance to put together the best season in Moffat County baseball history, the team can go further than any other from here," Hafey said. "At this point in the season, it comes down to who can win us the most games. You go with your best. If you don't, you're asking for a world of hurt."

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