LAKEWOOD — Bear Creek and D’Evelyn baseball players shook hands at the conclusion of a non-league game late Friday afternoon as a cold drizzling rain came down.
Despite not having ideal weather conditions, the Bears and Jaguars had the promise of warmer playing conditions next week with spring break trips to Arizona and Florida, respectively.
“It’s a big trip for us. We love getting out there and getting in the sunshine a little bit,” Bear Creek coach Sean Hoorelbeke said after a 12-8 home victory thanks to a 5-run bottom of the sixth inning against D’Evelyn. “You learn a lot about your team and it’s a great bonding experience. It’s an experience we always value.”
D’Evelyn (2-4 record) rallied with a 4-run top of the sixth inning to take a 8-7 lead. Senior Justin Fritchie’s 2-run single gave the Jaguars the lead.
However, Bear Creek (2-2) answered in a hurry cranking out five runs on five hits in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Dylan Gutierrez delivered with his third hit of the game with a 2-run single and senior Nate Madrid ripped an RBI triple before senior Shawn Vigil closed out the inning with an RBI single.
“Any time you play any Jeffco teams you know they are going to be well-coached and they are never going to go away,” Hoorelbeke said of D’Evelyn taking an 8-7 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning. “It was great to see our guys respond and not shut it down. We battled right back and we are going to have to do that countless times this season.”
Gutierrez battled after having a rough day defensively at third base. The ball wasn’t kind as the senior had a few errors in the field, but he didn’t let that affect him at the plate.
“Coaches always preach to just flush it,” Gutierrez said of the errors. “I just flushed it and got ready for my next at-bat. I was just trying to hit balls hard and putting it in play. It worked out.”
Gutierrez was 3-for-4 from the plate with five RBIs.
“He (Gutierrez) was able to stay locked in at the plate all day,” Hoorelbeke said. “You always look to your senior leadership for that.”
Friday’s game was the Bears’ third contest in three days. Bear Creek took a road victory over Lincoln on Wednesday before a 1-run home loss to Evergreen on Thursday. The Bears are in Arizona next week for spring break to play in the Pride Classic.
“It’s a good team win for us,” Gutierrez said. “We needed some motivation for us heading to Arizona. I can’t be more excited for this team heading to Arizona.”
The Jaguars played four games in two days (March 15 and 16) last week at the Hornet Tournament in Pueblo. D’Evelyn heads to the Dodgertown Tournament in Viro Beach, FL for spring break next week.
“I think it’s good that we are going down there (Florida) and getting games in,” D’Evelyn senior Evan Willis said. “The fact that we get to play three games in Florida instead of having the week off gives us the chance to work on things.”
Willis hit a monster home run to center field in the top of the third inning, giving the Jaguars a 3-2 lead at the time.
“The resilience we showed fighting back, we needed that,” Willis said. “But like Coach (Dan) Porreco was saying, we need to learn how to win. We came out flustered in that (bottom) sixth inning.”
The Class 4A Jeffco League race should be a little more wide-open this season with Valor Christian — 4A baseball state champs in 2016, 2017 and 2018 — playing up in 5A Jeffco this year.
“We know there are a lot of good teams in our league and we know we are one of them,” Willis said. “It’s going to be a fun league this year. I’m excited.”