Dolores now in front of SJBL

It was a first-place showdown with bragging rights at stake Tuesday in Dove Creek.

The Bulldogs made their home diamond debut and led most the way against baseball rival Dolores.

With Dove Creek leading 5-2 going into the seventh, the Bears showed why they have been the top dog in the San Juan Basin League the last few years.

Dolores scored three runs to tie the game and scored the winning run in the top of the eighth off a Bulldogs’ error. Dove Creek couldn’t answer in the bottom of the eighth. Dolores escaped town, stealing a 6-5 (F/8) victory.

“We’re just not mentally tough enough. We had a 5-2 lead going into the top of the seventh,” Bulldogs’ coach Ken Soper said. “We’re just inconsistent right now. We played two good games before, but we committed seven errors, which killed us.”

Dove Creek (3-5, 2-1 2A/1A SJBL) took its 5-2 lead after three runs in the bottom of the sixth and appeared on its way to sole possession of first-place.

However, Dolores (3-7, 2-1 SJBL) responded like defending league champions.

“We know it’s always a rivalry. I really thought the kids knew they could win it, rather than being scared of them,” said Soper about Dolores. “I think they were gaining confidence. We lost this game, but I think there is still confidence knowing that they should have won it. But you got to give credit to Dolores. They didn’t give up and they eventually won it.”

Dolores and Dove Creek sit in a first-place tie atop a much more balanced SJBL. But the Bears currently hold the tiebreaker.

“The whole league is close. On a given day, anybody can beat anybody,” Soper said. “We were hoping to get Dolores, so that we knew in the doubleheader, we just had to split. Now, we got to beat Dolores twice in Dolores (on April 28). That will be tough.”

Tyler Ebberts led Dove Creek hitting 2-for-3 with two Run Batted In, while Jessica Heaton went 1-for-1 with a RBI.

Dolores was led by Richard Belt’s three RBIs on 3-of-4 hitting. Cody Carroll won the game on the mound.

The Bears travel to Nucla on Saturday for a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Dove Creek steps out of conference today with a doubleheader in Moab, Utah, against the Grand County junior varsity at 3 and 5 p.m.