If anyone had doubts about the Dove Creek High School baseball team’s status as one of the top Class 1A teams in the state, those doubts were erased in Norwood on April 13.
Playing the first game of a doubleheader against Rangely on a neutral field, the Bulldogs pulled ahead early and dominated late en route to a 14-4 victory that ended by mercy rule after six innings.
Among the many batters playing a significant role in Dove Creek’s dominant performance was freshman Hayden Gray, who registered two hits, including a triple, and drove in a game-high five runs.
Kieron Huskey was also outstanding at the plate as the junior registered two hits, including a double, scored four runs, and had one RBI. Gauge Thompson, Derek Kibel, Branson Smith, Tristen Jarmon, and Jaron Fury also drove in runs for the Bulldogs.
Gray started on the mound for Dove Creek and pitched all six innings while yielding just one run and striking out seven Rangely batters.
Dove Creek led 3-0 at the end of the first inning and increased its lead to 9-0 at the end of five innings after scoring two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. After Rangely plated four runs in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs came back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to wrap up the victory.
In the second game of the day, Dove Creek faced off against perennial Class 2A powerhouse Meeker High School and lost a well-played, back-and-forth contest, 4-2, in eight innings.
Kibel pitched all eight innings for the Bulldogs and allowed no runs and just two hits. The senior struck out two batters. Kibel also led Dove Creek’s offense with two hits, including a double, and an RBI.
Gray also drove in a run for the Bulldogs, and Ty Smith, JD Dennison and Huskey all registered hits.
Garrett Frantz started on the mound for Meeker and allowed two earned runs over five innings of work before being relieved by Logan Hughes, who threw three shutout innings in relief and struck out five Dove Creek hitters.
After last weekend’s action, Dove Creek is now 7-6 overall on the season and 1-1 in the San Juan Basin League. The Bulldogs are currently the 10th-ranked team in the CHSAA’s weekly poll, but they have been ranked as high as fourth this season.
Dove Creek’s next game will take place on the road against Nucla High School on April 17.