Denny denies Dolores
Youthful Bears team shutout by Rangely pitcher’s no-hitter
A team made up primarily of underclassmen, the Dolores Bears accomplished a lot on the diamond this year.
Seniors Richard Belt, Nic Hassinger and Mike Sparks will graduate. Everyone else is back.
Dolores started the season slow, but it rebounded to win the San Juan Basin League title and earned the No. 1-seed in Saturday’s 2A District II tournament.
However, the Bears ran into a buzzsaw at McAndrew Field in Cortez. It was a superb, sunny Saturday morning for baseball. But Rangely Panthers’ pitcher Kody Denny cast a dark, gloomy cloud over the Dolores batter’s box.
The senior starter for Rangely threw a no-hitter. The Bears had no answer in a season ending 7-0 loss.
“I think we battled there towards the end of the year, played some better baseball. We played well enough to get into districts,” Bears’ coach Jim Everin said. “We knew going into districts, we were going to have to play really good baseball. But we came up against a really good pitcher. You can’t take anything away from him. You got to hit the ball to score runs, and we didn’t do that today.”
Dolores (7-11) forced four walks against Denny, but he would no be denied of his third no-hitter, striking out 11 Bears.
“My guys had a lot to do with that, staying behind me,” Denny said about his shutout win.
Rangely (11-10) advanced to the district championship, where it lost to 2A Western Slope rival Paonia. Each school moved onto regionals.
“It’s the first one since I’ve been in high school,” said Denny about the district championship appearance. “It’s nice to get that.”
For the Bears, this season was mostly a learning experience.
“We’re a young team. I’ve only played with these guys about a year,” said Dolores junior, Cody Carroll. “Today, we could have won, but we didn’t. We didn’t take our advantages to win the game. All we can say, is just get better for next year.”
Rangely tacked on three runs in the top of the first inning to seize control early. Dolores threatened in the bottom of the first with two runners on, but Belt grounded to first for the third out. The Bears didn’t do much after that. Denny smashed any hope for Dolores with his fastball.
“Half this team hasn’t seen anything over 65 miles an hour,” Carroll said about opposing pitching. “When you get a good pitcher in there, it’s hard to get on the ball offensively.”
Denny appeared fatigued in the sixth inning when he walked the first two Bears hitters in Stetson Hamilton and Carroll. But again, Denny came through, striking out Kellen Gatzke, Kolton Shull and Tyler Weir. That would be the last time Dolores had men on base. Denny retired the Bears top of the order in the bottom of the seventh, all by K’s, to get the win.
The Panthers tacked on runs in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Chad Bolding belted an RBI-double, while Rangely teammates Toby Gasper and Kelton Elam each hit RBI-singles.
“Defensively, fundamentally, I thought we played well enough to win a ballgame.” said Everin, who’s team committed only three errors.
Weir took the loss on the mound, striking out four. But next year appears bright for Dolores baseball.
“It’s look really good,” said Carroll about his team’s future. “Me and Weir are going to be pitching again. It’s OK. We’ll just hop over this little ledge and get on with next year.”
NOTES: Paonia knocked off Ignacio in the other semifinal game, 14-2.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.