RIFLE --ll-star games are supposed to be all about the "experience" and an "honor" for the players. It doesn't really matter who wins, right?
Don't tell the Moffat County players who jumped up and yelled after winning the Western Slope League All-Star Baseball Classic. They hadn't lost to a league opponent all year, and they wanted it to stay that way.
Rich Sadvar was named the Western Slope League Coach of the Year by his coaching peers during the league meeting at the end of the season. Sadvar helped steer the Bulldog baseball ship to an undefeated league season and a 16-3 overall record.
"Rich made it fun for us this year," senior-to-be Bryan Richards said.
Graduate Bryan Wojtkiewicz gave his coach credit for his team's success.
"He put in so much time and dedication toward us," he said. "He was inspirations and his positive attitude kept us positive throughout the season." Sadvar said he was honored for the award, especially in his first year.
"To have your fellow coaches vote for you is neat," he said. "It speaks of what my guys went out and did for me this year."
"It's fun, but we definitely wanted to win," Moffat County sophomore Chris Winder said. "Losing is never fun."
The team made up of Moffat County, Rifle and Delta players held off the team of Palisade, Steamboat Springs, Eagle Valley and Glenwood Springs, 8-7.
On paper, it looked like the Bulldogs, Bears and Panthers would pull off a blow out. Only one player on the team had less than a .400 batting average during the season. The league's three best pitchers, Moffat's Bryan Wojtkiewicz, Bryan Richards and Delta's Luke Oeltjenbruns were also on the same team.
"I thought we could probably win it," Richards said. "We had the three teams with the most established programs."
Richards has done his homework. Rifle, Moffat County or Delta has won the WSL baseball title since 2000.
The Bulldog players showed why they went 14-0 and dominated the league this year. Richards hit a three-run triple in the third inning and a towering home run in the fifth inning. Wojtkiewicz also had an RBI single in the third inning. Overall, the Bulldogs were responsible for five of the eight runs batted in and seven of the team's 12 hits.
Richards and Wojtkiewicz combined for seven strikeouts in four innings pitched, but they also gave up two runs.
Moffat had seven players invited to play in the game, and all but graduate Reid Hanneman came for the second annual all star game. Other Bulldog players were senior-to-be Brad Grinstead, junior-to-be Jordan Williams and graduate Brian Behrman.
"It took a little bit to shake off the rust from not playing for two weeks," Behrman said. "But after the first inning, I was fine."
What made the game close was a big inning for the Palisade/Steamboat/Glenwood/Eagle team on offense and numerous diving catches in the outfield on defense.
The Moffat/Delta/Rifle team trailed 1-0 until the third, when it scored six runs with two outs. The team scored a run in each of the next two innings to take an 8-1 lead. Rifle graduate Eli Snead gave up five runs in the sixth inning, and the game was close again, 8-6.
Richards surrendered a home run to Palisade's Mike Monger to make the game 8-7.
From the sixth inning on, the Bulldog/Panther/Bear team hit the ball hard, but the Sailor/Demon/Devil/Bulldog team made five spectacular catches in the outfield to take away hits.
Delta's Brandon Keller earned the save for his team by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
For the Bulldogs returning to play baseball next year, the focus turns to summer baseball.
"It was pretty laid back tonight," Richards said. "But it was cool to get to meet the guys we always play against."