Playing at Monticello on March 9, the Dolores High School baseball team lost 15-5.
According to Bears’ manager Rusty Hamilton, Dolores fell behind 9-0 during a tough first inning that saw starting pitcher Seth Nicholas get hit hard. The Bears subsequently recovered however, scoring five straight runs to pull within four during the middle innings.
“We hit the ball better, but we stranded a lot of runners,” Hamilton said. “We have to get better at getting timely hits.”
Speaking about how his team can improve, Hamilton said that arranging the pitching rotation and practicing outdoors will be key.
“We haven’t been able to practice outside yet because of the weather,” Hamilton said. “I expect the team to continue to improve once we are able to get out on the field.”
It was the second loss for the Bears, who lost to Grand County in a 7-2 contest. But considering they hadn’t been able to practice outside yet this spring, Hamilton was happy with his team’s performance.
“For seeing the field and seeing the outside for the first time this year we played extremely well,” he said. “We ended up with just one error, and I really couldn’t be much happier for their first game after not seeing the outside.”
And after going 0-16 last season, the Bears entered this year with a sense of optimism knowing that the only way to go is up.
“Last year was a seasoning year for a lot of kids coming in as freshman and seeing high school ball for the first year,” Hamilton explained. “And a lot of those kids were actually on the state little league team that ended up going to Texas, so they got a lot of baseball over the summer which has definitely helped us out.”
“I’m really excited about this year,” he continued. “Stepping on the field yesterday I felt like we were at least a month ahead of where we were last year at our first game, just because they played as a team when they stepped on the field. I think the chemistry this year is way better than we had last year and I’m really hopeful for that.”
Last season may have been frustrating at times for the Bears, but the team got valuable exposure. And after graduating just one starter from last year’s squad, Hamilton and assistant coaches Robert Laymon and Troy Mott bring back a group that is young, hungry, and experienced.
Hamilton said that pitching will be a strength for the Bears, and that senior Brandon Ward, juniors Justin Purkat and Seth Nicholes, and sophomores Dakota Smith and Neil Farias will all see time on the bump. He also pointed to juniors Tel Hamilton and David Schmittel, and sophomore Brennan Hite as key contributors.
Hamilton said that his team hasn’t spoken about any specific goals or milestones they hope to achieve. Instead, they’re focused on improving every day.
“You always want to go to state,” he said. “But the biggest things is playing one game at a time and getting better every game and putting some wins on the board.”
Dolores’ next action will be at Dove Creek on Tuesday beginning at 2 p.m.