In Saturday's 5-2 win over Dove Creek, the Bulldogs had runners on second and third and were trailing, 2-0, in the bottom of the third inning.
With two outs, junior Jamison Yanish was at the plate with a full count when he made a game-changing play, sending the ball over the fence in left field, giving Hotchkiss a 3-2 lead.
It was Yanish's third career homer and the Bulldogs' first home run of the year. "That was huge," said head coach Blake Carlquist. "Very big swing."
The Bulldogs held on for a 5-2 win.
In the fifth inning, Eli Kirk hit a one-run single for a 4-2 lead, and in the sixth, Yanish scored on a single by Jesus Macias. In the final inning, Yanish struck out one, and the defense took care of the rest.
"Dove Creek played very well," especially on defense, said Carlquist. "They made some plays I didn't expect. They played some hard-nosed baseball today. Hats off to them."
For reasons unknown, the Dogs weren't at their best, said Carlquist. "It's a dangerous thing when you're not playing your best and the other team is playing their best."
Hotchkiss followed up with a five-inning, 11-0 win over Nucla (3-5). Eli Kirk threw a no-hitter, striking out 11 batters and walking four in five innings for the win.
Presley Pene was 2 for 4 with three RBIs, a double and a triple, and Jonathan Gonzalez was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, a double and a triple.
On March 27 the Bulldogs defeated 3A Coal Ridge, 10-3. Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with a double, triple, and three RBIs, and Pene was 2 for 5 with two RBIs.
On the mound, Gonzalez struck out nine, walked one and allowed three hits and one earned run in five innings. Kirk threw four Ks and allowed one earned run in two innings.
"I think the score was a little misleading on that one," said Carlquist. Coal Ridge has a lot of good arms, but with seven sophomores and four upperclassmen, "they are young and pretty sophomore heavy." Had they met later in the season, it would be a very different game.
Under Carlquist the Bulldogs have made the state championship bracket the last three seasons. At 6-0, they are currently ranked second heading into 2A District 3/5 standings, and eighth in early-season state rankings.
Playing under pressure and against teams like Dove Creek that are playing really well will pay off later in the season, he said. "Whether you come out on top or not, if you can play with pressure, learn how to handle that, and at least play well, it's going to help you later on."
The Bulldogs are also down one starting player. Senior catcher Chase Hiatt, a fourth-year varsity player, is expected to return soon. Pene and Marvin Guereque have stepped up and filled in during his absence. "They've done a fantastic job for us in filling those shoes," said Carlquist.
The Bulldogs play a doubleheader this Saturday at Meeker, now 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the district after a 7-6 win over Ignacio and a 13-3 win over Dolores. With eight seniors, "I think Meeker's going to be pretty tough this year," said Carlquist.