Sailors kiss playoffs goodbye

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— A seventh-inning rally by the Rifle Bears in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday officially ended any chance the Steamboat Springs High School boys baseball team had of making the playoffs this season.

But outfielder Kevin Martin said the he isn't going to let Steamboat's early exit from the playoff race dampen one of the team's best seasons.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs," Martin said. "That was our goal all season, and after we lost to Rifle in the first game we all knew that we couldn't reach that goal. But that doesn't take away from what we've accomplished this year or where this team is headed."

Coach Sean Hicks praised his team's efforts in Saturday's first game.

The Sailors had 14 hits, including four from Martin, who went seven-for-eight on the day.

Tyler Fosdick was three-for-four, Ben Montoya was two-for-three and Sean Murphy and Jack Means were both two-for-four at the plate in the first game.

"Basically, I felt the team that won the first game was going to win the second," Hicks said. "We played a great game, but made a couple of huge mistakes at the end and ended up giving it away."

The hometown Bears came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning trailing by a single run.

Things looked good after Steamboat got the first two outs of the inning, courtesy of a Jack Means' strikeout and a throw by Fosdick to get a Rifle runner at the plate.

But with the game on the line, Matt Jones' single to right field helped the Bears tie the game. Then Adam Krick's dribbler up the middle brought home the game-winning run.

Hicks said a combination of mistakes and bad breaks hurt the Sailors in that final inning.

It's the type of letdown that has become a regular part of Steamboat baseball and something that Hicks hopes the team will be able to overcome in the future.

"It's not just this game," Hicks said. "We still don't have a winning program here in Steamboat. In a winning program, the players expect to win and they keep thinking that way until the last out. Rifle has a program like that and we are still trying to get there."

Steamboat played hard in the second half of the doubleheader, keeping the score as close as 5-4 through five innings. But the Bears pulled away down the stretch en route to a 10-4 win.

Nonetheless, Hicks is happy with the way the Steamboat team seems to be headed this year and is optimistic he can build a winning tradition here.

The Sailors won six games this season, exceeding most expectations on the Western Slope, and have hopes of improving on that record before the season is complete.

"I think we will win out," Martin said. "It's something we need to do for the program."

The team will begin its quest to sweep the final three games on the road against the Battle Mountain Huskies tonight. It will be Steamboat's final league contest of the season.

Steamboat will play its final two games against Resurrection Christian in Steamboat Springs on May 1.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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