What a weekend it was for the Dolores High School baseball team.
Entering the District Tournament seeded fourth, the Bears finished second overall to secure a spot in the Class 2A Regional Tournament.
Bears come back to beat Meeker
Opening the District Tournament in Cortez against Meeker High School on May 9, the Bears came from behind late to notch a 3-2 victory.
Struggling to score runs early on, the Bears received a boost from starting pitcher Stetson Hamilton, who held Meeker scoreless through five innings.
Meeker broke through in the top of the sixth inning however, taking a 2-0 after a run scoring single and a wild pitch by Bears relief pitcher Kellen Gatzke.
Refusing to surrender however, Dolores stormed back.
After Bears center fielder Deano Valdez tripled to begin the bottom of the sixth inning, Mikeal Ford drew a walk and stole second base.
A subsequent balk by Meeker’s pitcher allowed Valdez to score the Bears’ first run and a wild pitch later in the inning allowed Ford to come in from third.
After a single and a steal by Hamilton, Kellen Gatzke belted a single to score Hamilton and give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
Gatzke went on to pitch a scoreless top of the seventh inning to secure the victory.
Discussing his team’s win, Bears first baseman Evan Moore spoke at length about his team’s no-quite attitude.
“The confidence we have from having so many late inning comebacks (this season) really helps us out,” said Moore.
Bears upset Hotchkiss
Playing against Hotchkiss in the second round of the district tournament on May 10, the Bears rode the strong arm of Kellen Gatzke to a 6-2 victory.
The Dolores victory was especially impressive in light of the fact that Hotchkiss entered the game with a 16-3 overall record.
In no way intimated by their tough opponents, the Bears scored two runs in the first inning after Gatzke singled in Ford and Hamilton.
Over the next six-plus innings, Gatzke was spectacular on the mound, mixing fastballs and curves to keep hitters off balance.
Although Gatzke allowed one run in the bottom of the second inning, the Bears responded with three runs in the top of the third to pull ahead 5-1.
Two of those runs came thanks a hard hit single by Evan Moore, which scored Gatzke and Ethen.
After Dolores scored their final fun of the game in the top of the fifth inning, Gatzke shut Hotchkiss down over the final three innings to secure the victory.
“I’ve been able to rest and focus on pitching a lot,” said Gatzke.
Although Dolores fell 16-1 to Nucla in the district championship game, the Bears advanced to regionals nonetheless.
“(Regionals) will be a new experience for a lot of us,” said Gatzke. “I’ve never been there before. Our goal is to play hard.”
Dolores will begin the Class 2A regional in Pueblo on May 16 with a matchup against top-seed Resurrection Christian High School.