Palisade tops Delta, clinches share of league title
Palisade baseball players gathered for a team photo after their game Tuesday because they had just clinched at least a share of the 4A Western Slope League championship.
But it was only after Delta, the last team in the league with a chance to tie the Bulldogs, made them play like champions.
Palisade remained unbeaten in the WSL by rallying from deficits of 7-1 and 10-9 to leave Suplizio Field with an 11-10 victory over the Panthers, whose two league losses are to the Bulldogs (15-2, 12-0).
Delta (12-3, 8-2) gave Palisade a much better game than the previous encounter, a 13-2 Bulldog victory. Tuesday, the Panthers applied pressure early, scoring a run in the first inning, two in the second, then four in the fourth to go up 7-1.
Keaton Reiher delivered the big blow in the fourth, a two-run, inside-the-park home run. Delta collected five hits in the frame before a runner was thrown out trying to steal, ending the outburst.
Palisade’s response was seven runs in the bottom of the fourth, as the Bulldogs finally got to Reiher, who limited them to one run on three hits through three innings and struck out five. Palisade used four hits, four walks and an error as 12 Bulldogs went to the plate in the fourth. Two bases-loaded walks and a groundout to second base plated the final three runs of the rally.
“We know they are a big-inning club, and we wanted to avoid giving them the big inning,” Panthers coach Marty Rover said. “We didn’t make a lot of mistakes. They kind of took it to us.
“Keaton pitched well, but he kind of hit a wall (in the fourth inning).”
A Palisade run in the fifth made it 9-7 Bulldogs, but Delta answered with three runs in the sixth, capped by Jeremiah Baier’s two run single to left, for a 10-9 lead.
Then, back came Palisade as T.J. Tway plated a run on a high popup to shallow left field that dropped in for a single, and Cameron Campbell lined a triple to the gap in left-center to drive in the game-winning run. It was the Bulldogs’ only extra-base hit among their 11 hits for the game.
“First pitch, he threw me a fastball, and I fouled it off. Second pitch, he threw another fastball, and I was looking for my pitch and took it to the opposite field,” said Campbell, a left-hander who went 3 for 4, drove in two runs and scored twice. “I knew I was going to get more than a single. I just hoped it would score the run.”
The Bulldogs needed Campbell to step forward one more time, though, to seal the win.
With one out in the seventh, Delta got a single and two walks to load the bases, leading Palisade coach Steve Moore to bring in Campbell, who induced a flyout to right field and a groundout to the second baseman.
“I came in under some pressure, but we got through it as a team, and that’s all I could ask for,” Campbell said. “I just knew I had to come in and throw strikes; I couldn’t walk anybody. My team came through behind me.”
Moore expected a tough game from Delta, and didn’t mind seeing his team forced to battle for the win because he expects the postseason to bring more of those games than the ones that preceded Tuesday: three wins by a combined scored of 68-1.
“It’s a testament to these players,” Moore said of the rallies. “We have a lot of character. ... We had to have this one. This was a huge win for us.
“We played a Delta team that’s squared away, and we still came out with a victory. That’s very good for us.”