Bubba Ivers trotted around the bases Saturday at Craig Middle School.
As the Moffat County High School sophomore came into home plate, his teammates and coaches were there to congratulate him.
Ivers’ walk-off, solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning handed Western Slope League rival Delta High School its first league loss and the Bulldogs a 12-11 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
“I was thinking that I wanted to get the ball in a gap for a base hit,” Ivers said. “I needed to keep my swing short and sweet, and when I hit it, I knew it was gone.”
The Bulldogs had an 8-3 lead early in game one and looked to be heading toward an easy victory.
But, a few innings later Delta stormed back to tie it 8-8 and force an extra inning.
“Delta is aggressive on the (bases),” head coach Justin Folley said. “They took advantage of any mistakes we made and stole numerous bases.”
In the top of the eighth, the Panthers added three runs to go up 11-8.
Enter Hayden senior Ben Williams, who did what he had been doing all game — knocking the ball out of the park.
Williams had a two-run homer and a grand slam earlier in the game. In the bottom of the eighth, Williams hit another two-run home run to tie the game, 11-11.
Ivers’ heroics came next.
“Having Williams hit three home runs in one game always helps us get a victory,” Folley said.
The Bulldogs dropped the second game of the doubleheader 6-1, but Folley said his team made an impact in the WSL.
“Against one of the best teams atop our league, I felt we did a great job,” Folley said. “We are in the right place in our conference after splitting with Delta and it gave us both a boost in our morale and in the standings.”
Hayden sophomore Mark Doolin struggled from the pitching mound in the second game, Folley said, and his players didn’t make the best decisions at the plate.
“In the second game, we took a lot of three-strike outs,” he said. “The third called strike wasn’t always clear, but I will never blame a game on an umpire and the players shouldn’t leave it up to the umpire’s call.”
The Bulldogs (4-6 overall, 4-2 WSL) struggled Thursday against Rifle in large part due to Rifle’s left-handed pitcher.
In the team’s first game against Delta (5-3 overall, 4-1 WSL), the Panthers put a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
“We came out and were more patient against Delta’s left-handed pitcher,” Folley said. “We had a lot of 3-1 counts, and that is actually when Ben hit two of his home runs.”
Coming out of the weekend, the Bulldogs are tied for third with Palisade in the WSL while Delta remains at the top of the standings.
The Bulldogs will travel to Palisade for a doubleheader on April 23.
Ivers said the Palisade games would provide a great opportunity for his team.
“Palisade is always at the top of the standings and have good pitching and are really aggressive,” he said. “We came out a little flat in the second game against Delta, but I think we can compete with the best teams in our league.”
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.