According to his coach, Rifle's Jason Enewold has a good slider and split-finger fastball. Against Moffat County his fastball was all that he needed.
"Jason's fastball was getting them out," said Rifle coach Troy Phillips. "I think I called for his splitter once tonight and we just didn't have to call for many breaking balls."
In an epic pitching duel with Moffat County's Jerod Estey, Enewold prevailed with 19 strikeouts and his team won the extra-inning classic, 6-4.
"Every time we play Moffat County, it seems like it comes down to the last inning and in this case it took two extra," Phillips said. "Those two on the mound today make one of the best match-ups this league has had in years."
While a 6-4 score sounds like a lot of runs for a pitching duel, only five of the runs were earned -- three for MCHS and two for RHS.
"It's high school so you can expect some mistakes," said MCHS coach Scott Parker. "It was just that they made fewer."
The errors weren't what bothered Parker the most. It was the quiet bats of the Bulldogs during the first four innings.
"We didn't have much at the plate the first four innings," Parker said. "We were helping out their pitcher a lot with some bad swings."
Rifle scored one run in the second and third innings and two in the fifth, including a solo home run from Enewold to take the early 4-0 lead.
The bottom of the fifth saw the Moffat County bats start to catch up to the fastball. The Bulldogs loaded up the bases with two outs. Rifle chose not to pitch to Estey, who came into the game batting .667 with six home runs, and gave up a run with the walk to get to Tad Behrens.
Behrens made the Bears pay with a two-run double down the left field line. A wild pitch allowed Estey to score and the inning ended tied at four.
After the fifth, each team had a base runner at least once an at bat except for Rifle's half of the sixth. No team was able to capitalize until the top of the ninth.
Matt Jones led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on Nick Bobler's bunt single. Owen Madison cranked a double to center field scoring Jones and giving the Bears their first lead since the fifth inning.
After Madison's double, Enewold received a free pass to first base and Estey signaled to the dug out that he was done.
Jon Bugay came in with the bases loaded and no outs. After walking in a run, Bugay escaped further damage when a Rifle runner tagged too early on a fly out and was called out when the Bulldogs appealed to third.
The Bears held onto their 6-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth by picking off Moffat County's Jason Mosher at third for the final out.
"Owen's hit after he had missed getting two bunts down earlier was big for us in the ninth," Phillips said. "It was just a well-played game."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org