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Bears sweep season finale, 9-4, 11-6

1st home runs not enough for Bulldogs against Rifle

David Pressgrove

— Erik Leonard picked a good time to crank his first home run of the season. It was the seniors last time to play at his home field, and it was the team’s first long ball of the season.

“Erik showed resilience this year,” coach Tim Hafey said. “I’m sure it was a highlight for him to get that in front of the hometown crowd.”

Unfortunately for the Moffat County baseball team, it wasn’t enough. They lost the season-ending doubleheader to Rifle 9-4 and 11-6.

Game one was all Michael Cash for the Bears.

Cash broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when he crushed the first offering from Ben Williams over the left-center field fence. In the fifth, Cash started a two-out rally with an RBI double, and the rest of his team added three more hits and four runs to go ahead 7-0. Just for some insurance, Cash added a two-out, two-run home run in the sixth to put the Bears up 9-0.

Cash also held the Bulldogs scoreless through five innings of pitching. Leonard’s home run came in the sixth.

Williams struck out 11 Bears in seven innings but couldn’t find the third out twice, allowing seven, two-out runs.

“Ben was solid for us all year,” Hafey said. “Probably one of our most consistent performers. We just missed on too many routine things this year, and it cost us.”

In game two, Moffat County’s Casey Martin put the Bulldogs up 3-1 with a two-run home run in the third inning. The Bears responded with six runs of their own in the bottom of the third. They went into the top of the seventh inning with an 11-4 advantage, but the Bulldogs made them sweat a bit.

Moffat County scored two runs and had the bases juiced when Kullen Turner grounded out on a sharp grounder to second to end the game.

“Catcher Scott Costello threw out two runners for us that game,” Hafey said. “We’d been working with him all season, and he was able to get it done in our final games.”

Leonard and freshman Ivan Neilson combined on the mound for the Bulldogs in game two.

After the games, Leonard wiped away a couple of tears. He and fellow seniors Spencer Wayman, Emmanuel Alvarez and Casey “Cali” McClanahan were done playing baseball in a Bulldog uniform.

“The seniors should be proud of their effort,” Hafey said.

After multiple weather cancellations and date changes, the Bulldogs finished out the season with six games in four days. On Saturday, they traveled to Battle Mountain and picked up their first sweep of the season with a 9-4, 12-2 double victory. On Monday, they road tripped to Palisade for a rough 12-1 and 19-6 two-loss evening.

The young team finished with three league wins. They won’t take much time off in an effort to come back next year and return to the playoffs. Summer ball starts Monday.


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