Bulldogs fall short at 1A state

A baseball team full of underclassmen and inexperience, Dove Creek still found itself in the 1A state tournament.

However, with inexperience comes inconsistency.

Six Dove Creek errors led to four runs for Elbert on Saturday at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver. The Bulldogs of Dove Creek trailed the whole way and threatened with the bases loaded in the seventh, but only scored once. It wasn’t nearly enough in a 7-2 loss to Elbert.

“We had a couple bad innings that hurt us defensively. That second inning, they got two runs when they shouldn’t have got any, because of our errors,” said 47th year Dove Creek coach, Ken Soper. “They only had three earned runs out of the seven. Our defense failed us a little bit. The game was actually closer than that.”

Elbert (9-5) pitcher Quinn Franek won on the mound for his Bulldogs. He frustrated most of the Dove Creek (6-12) lineup.

“Their pitcher was a little bit faster than what we were facing here. We were behind him most of the time,” Soper said.

Freshman catcher Alex Ogas had an answer at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a RBI for Dove Creek.

“He played his best game offensively and defensively,” said Soper about Ogas.

Klancey Krafka, a junior, batted 2-for-3 with a double. Senior second baseman Zoey Young recorded a RBI-walk. Tyler Ebberts played well at center field.

“Tyler Ebberts was phenomenal in the outfield defensively,” Soper said about the junior.

Although the season came to an end in Denver, the veteran coach feels his squad accomplished a lot this year. Dove Creek won a district title to advance to the state playoffs.

“I’m still proud of the kids, going as far as they did. They gave it all they could,” he said. “I thought it was a great tribute to them, making it to the state tournament.”

What does the future hold for Dove Creek baseball? It appears bright. Only three seniors graduate, two of which were starters. Also, the Dolores County School Board unanimously voted in favor to offer the head baseball coaching job to Soper for next year. The 74-year-old coach accepted.

“I think Dove Creek baseball is coming back like it used to be. We have a good crop of freshmen coming in,” Soper said. “All the (San Juan Basin League) teams are going to be better next year. Every game is going to be a battle like this year.”

NOTES: Elbert lost in the semifinals to Baca County, 16-0. Baca County will play Stratton for the 1A state championship on Saturday in Engelwood at 1 p.m.