RIFLE (4/6/16) – How does a team put 17 opposition runners on base via walks and hit batsmen and still manage to win? In “walk-off” style, of course.

After stranding 11 runners through the game’s first six innings, Glenwood’s Stephen Romero cleared the bases in the top of the seventh with a triple to tie the score, but a leadoff walk – what else? – in the home half gave Rifle a 9-8 win on a base hit by Takoda Cheney.

The Bears’ three pitchers gave Glenwood a multitude of opportunities to break open the game, but until Romero’s blast into the right-center gap, the visitors couldn’t get the big hit – in fact, were limited to just three singles through the first six innings.

Glenwood scored in the first when Cooper Cornelius singled home Chano Gonzalez, who had walked and stolen second. A groundout by Gonzalez with the bases loaded in the 2nd put the Demons up 2-0, but again they stranded two runners – something they managed to do in six of the first seven innings.

Tristen Howe’s single put Glenwood up 3-2 in the third before a pair of Demon errors contributed to two unearned Rifle runs in the home half.

Blaine Vance, despite walking five in his three innings of work, stood to win the game as a triple by Bryer Rew and Morgan Robinson’s double keyed back-to-back two-run frames giving the Bears and Vance a 4-3 lead heading to the 4th.

Cheney took over in that inning, and despite hitting two batters and walking two more, gave up just one run (on a passed ball) because he picked the leadoff hitter off first base and struck out the final two batters.

Cheney, who had executed a perfect squeeze bunt to bring home the tying run in the second, led off the 4th with a single, then scored from second base when Wyatt Carter’s bunt got past Romero on the mound.

Up 6-4, Cheney again got in trouble by walking two of the first three hitters in the 5th, but Gabe Marbas threw out Easton Gaddis trying to steal third to end the inning and put the first zero on the board for Glenwood.

Davis Deaton, who relieved Romero and stranded a runner at second in the 4th, pitched out of trouble in the next inning, getting Cheney to strike out with runners on second and third. Two walks and a wild pitch drew the Demons within one in the 6th, but Marbas came out from behind the plate to pitch, stranding two runners when Cheney caught a sinking liner by Gaddis.

In the home half of the 6th, Rifle again took advantage of a key Glenwood error. With two outs and a runner on second, Marbus popped up to center field. Herbie Vega appeared to have made the catch, but juggled the ball, and James Magnuson scored when it dropped to the ground. Robinson made the Demons pay for extending the inning with his second double for an 8-5 Rifle lead heading into the final inning.

However, Marbas walked the first two hitters, and Kyle La Couture beat out a grounder up the middle to load the bases. Gonzalez struck out, but Romero, who was touched for 6 hits and 6 runs (4 earned) in his three-plus innings on the mound, and hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield in four at bats, made up for all that with one decisive swing.

With Romero on third and one out, Cornelius chased a high-and-tight 2-2 pitch to strike out, and Jake Brown fouled out to first-baseman Rew to set up the walk-off dramatics in the last of the 7th.

The Bears (7-1) are now 5-0 in Western Slope League play, and despite the 17 free passes issued by the pitching staff, played errorless ball and came up with key hits, cashing in three of Glenwood’s four errors for four unearned runs.

The Demons (2-3), plagued by bad weather and construction work on their home field (this game was to be played in Glenwood) that has caused three cancellations, showed their lack of game action both in the field and at the plate in dropping their opening league game. Weather permitting, Glenwood is scheduled to play a doubleheader at Battle Mountain Saturday and, if the home field is ready, will host the Bears next Wednesday.