By ELWOOD K.SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Jon Bugay always has to be on his toes because he never knows when he'll take the mound.
The Moffat County High School junior, who can usually be found manning first base, pitched his first game since the April 4 Battle Mountain doubleheader. Bugay won then and he won again in Tuesday's 11-2 victory over the Aspen Skiers.
Bugay allowed four hits and two runs in his third appearance of the season. The pitcher showed great control around the plate, striking out five Skiers and supplying his fielders with a game full of routine plays.
"It's hard to pitch when you haven't for awhile," Bugay said. "When you haven't pitched on the mound, it's hard to get readjusted."
The only run Bugay allowed was an RBI single at the top of the fifth.
The Skiers scored their other run off of a fielding error when junior catcher Tad Beherns missed the mark on a pick-off play to third base.
Bugay's performance reassures coach Kip Hafey his bullpen is sturdy heading into the final three games of the year. It also takes the stress off of his two aces, senior Chris Field and junior Jerod Estey.
"Jon is a tough kid and was there when we needed him today," he said.
"We have a few other pitchers who can fill, Shane Burum has one win for us this year and Joe Padon can pitch if we need him to."
It wasn't just the Bulldogs' pitching that led them to their third straight victory. A renewed intensity at the plate that surfaced during Saturday's 11-7 win over Delta has the Bulldogs hitting the way Hafey has wanted them to all year.
The Bulldogs (9-6) scored in all but the second and third innings, with two MCHS players hitting home runs accounting for five of the team's scores. Beherns knocked a three-run homer over the left-center field wall that bounced its way across U.S. Highway 13 in the fifth inning.
Estey followed Beherns cue in the sixth inning, hitting a deep left-field shot that slowly floated its way over the fence, scoring junior Dan Torgerson and himself. The home run puts Estey in the lead for Class 4A at six on the season.
The Bulldogs struck out only twice, showing Hafey his players won't back down at the plate.
"The guys have made a real commitment to not striking out," he said. "Every time they get down in the count they're waiting for their pitch
and hit it."
The Bulldogs will take a short break before finishing off their final three games of the season. Moffat County will resume play Thursday with a home game against Rifle (9-3), who beat them 3-2 in the their first meeting. MCHS will finish off the season with a doubleheader at Palisade (6-6).
"We're right where we want to be," Hafey said. "We're getting hits and our fielding is coming along. We're starting to peak when we want to."