They may not have any superstars, but this year's Bulldogs baseball team is solid on fundamentals, said head coach Jason Yantzer. The basics have worked so far for the Bulldogs, who are 3-1 after the first week of play.
Hotchkiss swept last weekend's four-team Demon Invitational at Glenwood Springs. An 8-run third inning led the Bulldogs to a 10-7 win over 4A Glenwood Saturday. Brayden Wilson was 3-4 with two RBIs and a home run.
Devan Rupe was 4-5 with a double and a triple in Saturday's 12-6 win over Middle Park. Freshman pitcher Cesar Gonzalez struck out 10 and allowed three hits and one earned run in the win.
Hotchkiss was down 4-0 going into the final inning Saturday against Steamboat Springs. They scored four runs in the seventh to send the game into an extra inning and walked away with a 5-4 win. The Bulldogs had 11 hits for the game.
Yantzer said that, despite playing 3A and 4A teams, he wasn't surprised by the wins. "We always expect to win," said Yantzer. "We played well. The pitchers threw really well." The team played an aggressive tournament while sticking to the basics, and they played consistently, which can be tough to do this early in the season.
Hotchkiss opened at home on March 12 with a 10-6 loss against 4A Rifle.
The Bears opened with four runs, including a solo home run by senior Tristan Quigley, in the first inning and led 5-0 going into the bottom of the second.
By the end of the second inning, Hotchkiss had tied up the score. Russ Evans was 3-4 with two RBIs and a double for the game.
Playing the bigger schools, regardless of the outcome, will pay off in the long run, said Yantzer. The Bulldogs moved down to Class 2A this year after the Colorado High School Activities Association adjusted class enrollment requirements last summer. The Bulldogs were a competitive 3A team, claiming the District 3 championship and advancing to the state bracket in 2011. Last season they fell one game short of the state playoffs and ended the season with an 18-3 overall and 16-2 WSL record.
Yantzer said he doesn't yet know what to expect in the 2A WSL, which includes Paonia, Rangely and Meeker. Paonia has gone undefeated in league play the last two seasons, but that doesn't indicate the overall strength of the league, said Yantzer.
Despite the loss of five seniors, the Bulldogs bring a great deal of experience into the season. Wilson, Evans, Rupe, Tye Bayles and Hank Edwards are returning varsity players. Sophomores Kaleb Bayles, Mitch McCurdy and Brendan Beck begin the season in the outfield, and Kaden Milstein will play at second or third base. Gonzalez brings several years of little league experience to the outfield and the pitcher's mound.
The team is about two weeks ahead of the curve in terms of level of play, which Yantzer credits to the roughly 15 players who consistently showed up to winter workouts. It was the best winter in terms of practices that Yantzer can remember in his 14 years as head coach. They are a dedicated group with an amazing love for the game, said Yantzer. Their performance to date is encouraging. "Their love for the game is going to carry this group a long ways."
Hotchkiss hosted Roaring Fork (0-2, 3A WSL) Tuesday and will open league play this Saturday in a doubleheader at Paonia. Games are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus