Eight games into their season, the Dolores High School baseball team has only three wins to its credit.
But the Bears continue to improve, as evidenced by their solid showing at the San Juan Slugfest Tournament, which was held in Blanding, March 27-29.
Bears drop a close one
Opening the tournament on March 27 against San Juan High School, the Bears nearly snatched victory before losing 8-7.
After battling to a 1-1 tie at the end of the first inning, the Bears seized control in the second, scoring three runs to pull ahead 4-1.
San Juan responded, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second and adding three more in the top of the third to take a 6-4 lead.
Bears starting pitcher Stenson Hamilton yielded one more run in the fourth inning, leaving Dolores down 7-4 entering the fifth.
Not prepared to accept a loss, Dolores hung tough, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game 7-7. During the big inning, Drew Morgan, Evan Moore and Josh McCoy all came through with big hits.
Bears reliever Kellen Gatzke was unable to hold San Juan in check however, yielding the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Bears blown out by Aztec
Hoping to rebound on March 28, the Bears ran into a tough opponent in Aztec High School, losing 11-0.
Falling victim to Aztec's offense was Bears' starting pitcher Ethen Upton, who struggled to record outs.
"It was a tough game," said Bears' manager Rusty Hamilton. "The biggest thing that I can say is that we're playing larger schools. We hung with them and I was pretty happy."
Bears win shootout vs. Nucla
Wrapping up the Slugfest tournament in style on March 29, the Bears offense came alive, beating Nucla 16-11 in an exciting contest.
Leading the way for Dolores was Gatzke, who pitched the entire game and recorded several key hits.
With their record at 3-5, the Bears next play San Juan High School in Blanding, Utah on April 5.