CEDAREDGE (4/21/12) — â€œIt must be all that working out at the gym,â€ a delighted Hunter Finger said to a Rifle Bear baseball fan after Finger\'s two-run home run in the top of the 7th triggered a come-from-behind 10-7 win in the first of a doubleheader sweep at Cedaredge that broke a first-place tie with the Bruins atop the 3A Western Slope League.
The Bears trailed 7-6 in the last inning when Finger propelled a Drew Beach fastball over the 355 sign in left-field and made a winner of Danny Bartels (8-0). Bartels struggled with his command early in the game, yielding 6 hits and 7 runs in the second and fourth frames to fall behind 7-3 while Beach, who was also undefeated on the mound coming into the game, was on his way to ten strikeouts. But the 6-2 Bruin senior, after throwing just 52 pitches through the first four innings, yielded 3 walks, a hit batsman, four hits and 7 runs in the final three innings while making 70 pitches.
A single by Bailey Hoffmeister, the Bruins\' fifth error of the game, and Taylor Larrechea\'s steal of home added two more runs in the Bear seventh. Bartels struck out the first two hitters in the home half and ended the game by retiring the last nine batters in a row.
â€œI\'m really proud of that first game comeback,â€ Rifle coach Troy Phillips said after the Bears did it again in the 3-1 second game victory, â€œbecause we were down a few runs.â€ Finger took the mound against Sterling Rose in game two and after the Bruins earned a 1-0 lead on Beach\'s single in the first, they were held to just three hits the rest of the way.
Rose nursed that lead, pitching a two-hit shutout until Jacob Withee lined a shot past Rose to lead off the fifth, then pulled a delayed steal of second — â€œa designed play we can use only once a game,â€ Phillips explained after Withee caught the Bruin infielders and catcher Greg Edgington napping. When Bruin shortstop Trent Walker mishandled Triston Quigley\'s grounder, followed by a wild pitch, the game was tied.
In the last of the fifth, with a runner at second, catcher Wyatt Robinson made a tumbling catch of a foul pop, the umpire waiting until he rolled over and showed the ball, before signaling the out to end the inning. Robinson, who was shaken up on the play, recovered to single in Hoffmeister with the go-ahead run in the top of the 6th. Finger needed just 7 pitches to take care of Cedaredge in their half and then drove in an insurance run with a two-out hit in the top of the 7th.
Finger needed just 8 pitches in the home half to secure his fourth win in five decisions and give Rifle (12-1 WSL) a two game lead over the Bruins (10-3). The Bears next game is at Roaring Fork, Tuesday, April 24.