League standings boost spirit for Moffat County baseball heading into heavier competition
It’s a little soon to be getting overconfident, but if Moffat County High School baseball can key in on the energy of their most recent road series, the rest of the season looks promising.
The Bulldogs are sharing the top spot in the 3A Western Slope League after sweeping the Gunnison Cowboys Saturday afternoon during a neutral doubleheader in Rifle.
It was the third occasion for MCHS playing on the Rifle field and the second in as many days following a rescheduled Friday match against the 4A Bears.
Rifle took a 10-0 lead after three innings, and while the Dogs rallied slightly with three runs in the fourth, MoCo fell 14-4 after six innings.
Head coach Brian Jennings said Bulldog batters struggled to connect from the start.
“We told them you can’t take two times through the order to make adjustments because by that time the other team has seven or eight runs,” he said. “Second half of that game, we hit the ball a little better and made a little push, but it still wasn’t enough since we were down so early.”
The loss to Rifle didn’t count for league credit, and the return to the diamond the next day was one of determination.
Moffat County earned its first shutout of the spring in a 10-0 game to start the day, followed by an 18-8 rout to complete the sweep.
Jennings said his batters were less focused on slugging than strategic hitting.
“It was more of a better approach from the entire team, which I’ll take all day over dingers to be honest. Just a lot of base hits in situations where we needed them, that’s what we’ve been working on the last two weeks, and I’d rather have 10 or 11 hits like that than get two or three dingers,” he said. “We played really good defense too, the kind I want to see from them going forward for the rest of the season.”
With 11 strikeouts for Derrick Squires, fellow senior Daniel Running also got it done on the mound.
“Running threw a lot of strikes, and the rest of (the team) made a lot of plays behind him,” Jennings said. “It was really the most complete baseball game we’ve had all season.”
Jennings added that the difference between the two days was driving in runs early on regardless of how many their opponents were scoring.
“That second game, they scored five in the first inning, but we scored 12 the next half,” he said of the Gunnison games.
MCHS’s junior varsity squad took on Meeker Monday afternoon, ending in a loss of 11-7, with varsity athletes in practice mode during the match.
The Bulldogs will be back in action again this weekend with two games in Delta.
The Dogs will next play at home Monday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 26, with JV and later varsity against Steamboat Springs.
As the defending league champions, MoCo is still sitting pretty in terms of repeating that honor. At 5-1 in Western Slope play, they hold a slight numbers advantage, though some of their toughest competition is yet to come, with North Fork looking like the biggest contender.
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