The Bruins’ Dillon Nicholas had this Rifle baserunner for an out if only he had held onto the ball from pitcher Sterling Rose during the second game of doubleheader action last Saturday. Rifle swept both games, 10-7 and 3-1, to move into first.
Three losses in a row for the Cedaredge baseball team doesn't happen very often. Against Roaring Fork a year ago, the Bruins suffered a two-game losing streak.
For the most part, Randy Brown's team has more than held its own in the 3A WSL. With the losses on Saturday, Cedaredge finds itself in third place with a 10-3 league mark and 10-4 overall. Rifle (12-1 and 13-1) is in first with Hotchkiss (by way of winning percentages) is in second with its 9-2 and 10-2 marks.
Hotchkiss hosted the Bruins early in the week with seeding implications on the line. The Bulldogs won the first meeting between the two teams by a 6-4 decision.
Cedaredge is in the playoffs as six teams qualify from the 3A WSL. Where they enter the playoffs is a concern for Brown. "We don't want to be in a region where Eaton and other top ranked teams are playing. How we finish will determine the region we will play in."
The Bruins are also on upset alert with a tough Olathe team (9-4 and 9-5) remaining on their schedule in early May.
Saturday's contests with Rifle were both close games with their outcomes coming down to the latter stages of each game.
The Bruins had leads of 3-0 and 7-3 before the fifth inning in game one. A single run by the Bears in the top of the fifth began a string of three straight innings of scoring for the Bears. Rifle scored once in the fifth and twice in the sixth to trail 7-6 heading into the seventh.
Photo by Wayne Crick
Cedaredge assistant coach CJ Cannell gives signs (left) while head coach Randy Brown (middle) and assistant Brandon Milholland watch game action. Cedaredge lost a doubleheader and suffered an 11-1 loss to Paonia to make it a triple loss for the Bruins last week. Brown noted that the consecutive losses are a rarity for his Bruins and vowed his team would bounce back.
A two-run home run by Hunter Finger in the seventh gave the Bears an 8-7 lead. Two more runs made it a four-run seventh and a 10-7 lead for Rifle. Cedaredge was unable to score in their half of the inning.
Finger led Rifle's offense with two hits and three RBIs with Danny Bartels picking up two RBI's on a double.
Drew Beach had a pair of RBIs on two hits with teammate Aaron Henrie getting a double in two hits. Beach and James Ledonne also had doubles for the Bruins.
Beach took the loss and has a 5-1 record on the season.
In game two, the Bruins took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning that held up until the fifth. Rifle tied the game in the top of the fifth when Jacob Withee reached base on a single and later scored on a Sterling Rose wild pitch.
An errant pickoff throw in the sixth inning led to Rifle's second run on a single by Wyatt Robinson that scored Bailey Hoffmeister.
Rifle's final run came in the seventh after Triston Quigley singled and Finger drove him home after getting a single.
Robinson paced Rifle's offense with two hits. The Bears finished with just five hits.
Cedaredge got hits from Greg Edgington, Trent Walker, Rose and Beach to account for the Bruins' four hits.
Rose was the pitcher of record for Cedaredge and has a 5-2 mark following the loss last Saturday.
For Brown, the loss was disappointing but not devastating. "As I mentioned after our loss to Hotchkiss earlier in the season, this will make us better down the road."
Cedaredge had some mental mistakes in the latter stages of game two that triggered a post-game talk from Brown. "We had a conversation about our mental toughness late in the game. We need to get tougher in that department. It's not a matter of lack of effort for us. We just need to stay focused more."
The Bruins have five players hitting at a .400 clip or better this season. Walker's .490 leads the way with Beach next at .478 followed by Peter Williamson (.422), Henrie (.419) and Sam Williamson (.400).
Hotchkiss was at Grand Valley (Parachute) on Saturday for doubleheader action.
The Bulldogs had little problems with the Cardinals with wins of 11-2 and 10-1.