The baseball team from Hotchkiss High School finally got to enjoy a little home cooking.
The Bulldogs improved to 10-0 for the season and swept Rangely in a twinbill last Saturday at Hotchkiss, beating the Panthers with football-esque scores of 14-0 and 39-0.
It was the first games of the season the Bulldogs played in front of their home fans.
"It's been a long time. We felt a little bit out of our element at first but it's nice to be back at home," Hotchkiss coach Blake Carlquist said.
Hotchkiss was led by its dominant duo of pitching siblings. Senior Cesar Gonzalez hurled a no-hitter in the first game, striking out nine Rangely batters. Not to be outdone, sophomore Jonathan Gonzalez pitched a no-hitter in game two and struck out 11 visiting batters.
It's hard to pick which Gonzalez is better. Cesar shows a veteran command of the strike zone while Jonathan has tremendous talent with great arm strength and consistent control of three pitches.
"That was great. I've never seen two no-hitters on the same day in my life," Carlquist said. "They did what we asked them to do. They attacked the strike zone and our defense stepped up behind them."
Equally dominant in the doubleheader were the Bulldogs batters. Leading the way in game one was Alex Aguilera, who went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Every Bulldog got to bat in the second game. Chase Hiatt was 5-for-6 with four RBIs, Cole Carvill had five hits and seven RBIs and Jonathan Gonzalez helped his own cause with four hits and five RBIs to lead Hotchkiss.
Carlquist said he was happy with the approach the Bulldogs hitters took at the plate.
"Absolutely. I think game one we became a little lackadaisical after we got our big lead; it's hard to stay focused when you're ahead like that," he said. "Game two, we took what they gave us and didn't try to do too much with the ball."
Undefeated and ranked No. 3 in 2A, the Bulldogs are in a good spot but know they have more work to do.
"We're confident but we're not comfortable yet," Carlquist said. "We know we've still got more to come. We've got some tough games coming up and I think we can still improve quite a bit as a team. And I think they know that as well."
Hotchkiss players don't need any more motivation this year. After getting to the state semifinals last season, the Bulldogs lost on the old hidden ball trick on the last play of the game against eventual state champion Rye.
The play made ESPN's Top Ten and is still talked about a lot by fans and followers of the Bulldogs.
"It's brought up quite a bit, as it should be," Carlquist said. "Do we let it affect us in a negative manner? No. Not at all. If anything it drives us. That game could have gone either way."
The Bulldogs have every intention of getting back to Pueblo this year and have the experience, pitching depth and talent to do it.
"Our end goal is obviously to be the last happy team in 2A," Carlquist said. "But we know we got to take it one pitch and one game at a time."
Hotchkiss gets a week off then plays a doubleheader at home against Meeker on April 15.
Both North Fork Valley baseball teams are on a roll as Paonia swept No. 1 Resurrection Christian last weekend in Loveland and improved to 8-0.
The Eagles won 11-10 in the first contest, getting six innings and 10 strikeouts from pitcher KJ Seriani. Jaden Miller led the way from the plate with his triple, double and three RBIs.
Paonia won a 3-2 nailbiter in game two. Trevor Smith pitched the full seven innings in the win and Slater Podgorny paced the Eagles with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.
Paonia moved up to No. 2 in 2A after the doubleheader sweep, one spot ahead of Hotchkiss. Both teams are chasing new No. 1 Sedgwick County.
Mark your calendar for April 19 (at Paonia) and May 6 (at Hotchkiss), the two regular season matchups between the Eagles and the Bulldogs.
"It's gonna be a lot of fun," Carlquist said. "Paonia, they've got a great team this year, and I think we've got a great team as well. If both teams show up and play their best it should be a fun one to be a part of."