Legion team hot going into tournament
To measure how far the Moffat County Legion Post 62 B-team has come this summer, look no further than Bryan Rhode’s improvement on the mound.
Before this summer, the junior-to-be had pitched a total of four innings in a varsity game. In the fourth game in the summer, Rhodes came on to pitch in an extra inning game against Evergreen because the team was strapped for arms. He gave up the final run in an 11-10 loss.
Since then, he’s been 2-1 with an earned run average of less than two.
“I’ve learned more in the last month and a half than I had before in my entire life,” Rhodes said. “It’s been a great summer for me and the team.”
Since the Bulldogs were swept by Evergreen, 11-10 and 3-1, they have gone 16-1 in American Legion ball, which includes an active14-game winning streak.
Overall, Moffat County finished the regular season tied with Evergreen for the best record in the league, 19-3.
“We had our valleys during the season,” coach Buddy Grinstead said. “But we’re playing at the top of our game right now with a peak.”
The Bulldogs enter Thurs-day’s Legion B Division 1 Denver League Tournament in Evergreen as the second seed. Because Evergreen swept the Bulldogs, it earned the first seed.
Moffat County wouldn’t be tied for first if it weren’t for 24 innings of winning baseball Saturday in Denver.
Moffat County beat Thomas Jefferson Gold twice and then beat Holy Family Post 22 to finish the regular season. Going into Saturday, TJ Gold had the best record in the league. Holy Family was fifth.
The Bulldogs went into the TJ games anxious to see what the league-leading team was made of. The initial answer was, not much.
Moffat County exploded on TJ Gold in Game 1, beating them 18-6.
In Game 2, TJ returned the favor by opening up a 13-1 lead. The Bulldogs came back to tie it up in the seventh and then won it in the 10th when Bryan Wojtkiewicz scored on a errant throw to third.
“The first game was basically a spanking,” coach Bob Satterwhite said. “That second game we were tested and we came back and answered that adversity.”
As the sun set Saturday, the Blue-and-White finished up the road trip with a 10-4 defeat of Holy Family.
“We showed how we play baseball on the other side of the mountains,” junior-to-be Brad Grinstead said. “Some of the teams didn’t want us to join the league because we were from the Western Slope, but we’ve show we can play with them.”
The Bulldogs hope to continue to prove themselves at the league tournament. They open up with 9-13 Tee Pee Specialties on Thursday at noon. The first- and second-place finishers in the tournament move on to the Legion B state tournament next week.
The team record of 19-3 also carries some impressive individual numbers for the ‘Dogs. Junior-to-be Bryan Richards has swatted 22 home runs this summer. He also has a record of 4-1 on the mound. Wojtkiewicz is 5-2. The team has six batters with an average that’s more than .400
“This team works through things well,” Satterwhite said. “If an individual makes a mistake they’ll come up to the field the next day and work on it by themselves. We don’t see it until the next game when they’ve fixed the problem.”
The Bulldogs will likely see TJ Gold and/or Evergreen again. Both teams could present problems to solve.
“Not to make an excuse but we were worn out when we played Evergreen the first time,” Brad Grinstead said. “But we have to take each game like it’s the best team we’ll play.”
If the Bulldogs win Thursday, they’ll move on to Friday in the double-elimination tournament.
“I’m not overconfident, but I’m confident in our kids,” Buddy Grinstead said. “They’ve still got some good baseball in them.”
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