Eager enough to enter the Senior Day fray as a sixth-inning defensive replacement for junior first baseman Rhett Hoover, Colt Salazar wasted less time introducing himself offensively in the home half to Monte Vista reliever Stephen Clutter.
Cracking Clutter's first offering between Pirate third baseman Jarren Chavez and shortstop Bryson Hotz, Salazar not only reached base in his final 3A Intermountain League home game, but plated Alec Demko from third.
Three Wolverines later, the locals trotted back into the field, looking to preserve a 9-2 lead. The visitors' last hope, catcher Colby Self, flared a Max McGhehey delivery just high enough and far enough to find Salazar's mitt and polish off the April 28 doubleheader's opening contest.
"Senior Day, you know, you think it's never going to come, but when it does come you've just got to remember to play your game," said Michael Gettman (W; 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 7 BB, HB, 6 K), the third and last member of BHS' senior class, "and not get caught up in the emotional activities."
"Honestly, it felt amazing, like this was 'meant' for me, you know?" beamed Salazar, who totaled four putouts including MV's Hunter Hindes (0-4, 2 R) via a 1-6-3 double play immediately before Self stood in. "I just wanted to do anything I could do to contribute to the team; we were playing good."
Salazar wanted to score a run, but was ultimately stranded at second base after his Game 1 knock. He would again find himself stuck 180 feet away from home during the third inning of the Wolverines' 14-3, mercy rule-shortened Game 2 romp.
That score finally happened three days later, but wasn't enough to help BHS get past 4A Durango in the first of the La Plata County neighbors' two showdowns wrapping up regular-season work. Able to build up a 4-1 lead on the Demons through three innings, Bayfield couldn't overcome DHS' three-run sixth and fell by an 8-7 margin. That sets the scene for the May 8 rematch (3 p.m. start) at Wolverine Field.
"I think this is going to definitely show what we have for playoffs," Gettman said. "We're going to see teams that are just as good, if not better than Durango. And we've got to come out and play."
"We're just going to work like we did last week," said Salazar. "It's a big RPI thing for us."
"I'm ready," senior Kaleb Heck said, "and I don't think they'll be ready for what we're bringing."
Having hit the ball hard against Monte Vista (4-13, 2-8 IML), finishing a combined 1-for-3 with a walk, double, sacrifice-fly, two runs and two RBI, Hoover led Bayfield (10-8, 7-3) against Durango with a 3-for-3 showing including a double, run and a ribbie.
Able to reach base all nine of his plate appearances-finishing 6-for-8 with a walk, double, triple and five runs scored-against the Pirates, McGhehey (who threw the final inning of Game 1, then earned the win in Game 2 by hurling all five frames) went 1-4 atop the order with one run.
Junior shortstop Hub Brandon was 2-2 with a run and an RBI, while Gettman was 1-3 with two runs and Salazar 1-3 with his run. Heck went 1-3 and junior Hayden Farmer 1-4 with a run and an RBI.
He was reported as taking the loss, working 4-1/3 innings and allowing five runs on six hits, while logging a 3:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio as DHS (3-3 in the 4A/5A Southwestern) improved to 10-6 overall.
"Some guys did great, some still need work, and so we'll continue to get better," BHS coach Jake Forsythe said. "And just try to play fundamental baseball to win some games!"
"Going day-by-day," said Heck. "We know what we want to do, but we're going game-by-game."
MORE FROM SENIOR DAY: Sweeping MVHS allowed BHS to clinch second place in the Intermountain, one game ahead of Pagosa Springs (6-4 IML, 13-5 overall) mark and trailing only Alamosa (10-0, 13-4).
"Absolutely.we needed that," Forsythe said. "The last couple weeks have been really tough on us, and we needed to just come and play some solid Bayfield baseball. And that's what we finally did."
"The last league game I'm ever going to have.it's pretty crazy," said Gettman, who went a combined 4-for-6 with a triple, two walks, a hit-by-pitch, four runs and two RBI. "I tried to play my heart out and do the best I could."
"It felt really good to hear what the coaches had to say about us and everything; I felt like that was really big," Salazar said. "I think we all felt, like, united and could play our best.after everything."
"I think I was a lot more passionate," said Heck (2-6, FC, SAC-FLY, 2 RBI). "I know these days are coming to an end, so it's good to play with these guys."
Hub Brandon finished the twinbill 4-for-6 with a sacrifice-fly and a hit-by-pitch, scored three times and plated two. Second baseman Jake Brandon had a double and also scored three runs, while Demko officially finished 1-2 but drew four walks, was also tagged once by a Pirate pitch, and scored three times.