While the Dolores High School baseball team would have preferred to win the Class 2A District 3/5 Tournament in Delta on Saturday, a second-place finish in the competitive event was enough to qualify the team for regionals.
The Bears’ runner-up finish came courtesy of an 8-7 loss to Hotchkiss in a district championship game that came down to the wire and could have gone either way.
Hotchkiss pulled ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning and increased its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning before Dolores scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game, 2-2. A run by Hotchkiss in the top of the fifth and three more runs in the top of the sixth inning made the score 6-2.
Dolores refused to yield however, and after the Bears scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth, the teams found themselves tied 6-6 heading into a final inning that featured two runs by Hotchkiss and one run by Dolores.
The Bears were led offensively by senior Dakota Smith, who had two hits, including a home run, and a game-high four RBIs. Sophomore JJ Bruner was also solid at the plate with three hits and one RBI, and senior Brennan Hite also drove in one run.
Senior Cameron Chavez started the game on the mound for Dolores and gave up three earned runs over four innings of work while striking out six batters. Senior Dakota Smith entered the game in relief and allowed four earned runs over the final three innings.
Before squaring off against Hotchkiss, Dolores went toe-to-toe with Rangely in the District semifinals before eventually emerging with a 9-8 victory.
The game began on a sour note for the Bears as starting pitcher Neil Farias allowed six runs in the first inning. The senior settled down however, and allowed just two more runs over the ensuing four and one-third innings.
Dolores trailed 8-4 entering the final inning, but scored five run in the final frame to come away with the victory.
Among the key offensive contributors for the Bears was Farias, who had two hits, including a home run, and drove in five runs. Smith drove in two runs for the Bears, and Bruner and Hite each had an RBI.
Chavez pitched the final one and two-thirds inning in relief and did not allow an earned run to earn the victory on the mound.
While the Bears’ loss to Hotchkiss ensured that they would not receive an automatic berth in the Class 2A Regional Tournament, the Bears earned an at-large bid thanks to their RPI ranking and will enter the tournament as the state’s 9th seeded Class 2A team.
The Bears opening game of the tournament will take place on the road against Holly High School on May 17. If the Bears win, they will advance to face the winner of a matchup between Peyton High School and Sargent High School later in the day on May 17.