Hotchkiss pitchers shut down Rifle
RIFLE — Hotchkiss High School’s baseball team provided plenty of offense Saturday against Rifle. Turns out, the Bulldogs’ pitching staff almost could have done without all the run support.
Hotchkiss pitched a pair of three-hitters, and big innings in both games of their Class 3A Western Slope League doubleheader paved the way to the Bulldogs’ 6-0, 7-1 sweep of the previously unbeaten Bears at Cooper Field.
“We kind of preached all week leading up to this game that this could mean the league championship,” Hotchkiss coach Jason Yantzer said.
“We know Gunnison is going to be there, we knew Rifle (swept) Olathe and we knew Cedaredge is going to be tough. That said, this was an important weekend, and it’s only Week 3. And the kids came through.”
The Bulldogs (5-0 overall, 4-0 WSL) got big performances from starting pitchers Jamie Rodriguez (2-0) and Edgar Macias (1-0) to shut down Rifle’s offense. The Bears (4-2, 4-2) had outscored their opponents 39-19 in their previous four games.
“We knew that this could be for a league title,” said Rodriguez, who allowed three hits, two walks and struck out 11 to shut out the Bears in the opener.
“We came out and were able to do what we normally do. Rifle’s a good team and is going to go far, but we want to do that, too.”
Hotchkiss led 2-0 in the first game until the fifth inning, when the Bulldogs’ three-run, five-hit inning built a five-run cushion.
Edgar Macias struck out seven and allowed one run and two walks in four innings, and Zach Larmer pitched three scoreless innings the finish up the nightcap for Hotchkiss. Larmer inherited a 2-1 lead thanks to Dakota Coats’ solo home run in the top of the inning, and a three-run shot from Cesar Macias sparked a five-run seventh inning to seal it.
“It was real close, and then everyone finally started hitting the ball,” said Cesar Macias, whose home run followed singles by Larmer and Rodriguez. “After I hit that home run, that got us real excited.”
Rifle’s coaching staff wasn’t excited about the Bears’ hitting performance. Immediately after the game, the Bears were led to the batting cages and were told by coach Troy Phillips they were going to stay there until “they learned how to hit.” The session lasted a little more than 10 minutes.
“They responded a lot quicker to that than they did out there in the field,” Phillips said. “Don’t get me wrong, because Hotchkiss is a great team. But there are things that we could have done better that could have changed the outcome.”
Cesar Macias went 4 for 8, including a 3-for-4 performance in the opener. Coats drove in three runs and also went 4 for 8.
Rifle’s Triston Quigley scored the Bears’ only run of the day in the fourth inning of the second game on an RBI single by Nate Schilt. Cody Chick hit a pair of doubles in the second game.