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Young Rebels off to hot start

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By Brian Forbes

Young and inexperienced at the varsity level, the Columbine Rebels are walking softly this baseball season.

So far, they also happen to be carrying a very big stick.

The Rebels (3-0) notched their third victory by 10 runs on March 13 as they hammered Douglas County 11-1 and needed just five innings to do it.

Behind 4 1/3 innings from sophomore pitcher Bert Guzman, towering home runs by seniors Cody Hagen and Mike Tanner, and key hits from the bottom half of the lineup, the Rebels continued their surprising start to the young season.

And that is probably why veteran coach Chuck Gillman gave a very modest explanation for a team that has outscored Poudre, Ponderosa and Douglas County by a combined 47-8.

“We are incredibly young,” Gillman said. “We’ve been able to catch a couple of teams right after they played, so I’m sure that we’ve haven’t seen anybody’s ace yet, or their ace when he is fresh.”

Fair enough, but even Gillman admits the Rebels are swinging the bats. And as for seeing aces, the Rebels face Northglenn, Chatfield, Bear Creek and Pomona in a nine-day span that begins March 18.

The Rebels pounded out 13 hits by seven different batters against the Huskies (1-2). Guzman, Hagen, catcher Steve Autenrieth, designated hitter Austin Velasquez, second baseman Omar Sadaoui and third baseman Aaron Torres each had two hits apiece.

Hagen, who drove in three runs, got it started with a two-run homer that got up in the windless sky and still carried out over center field.

Four batters later the bases were loaded for Torres, who ripped a three-run double to the wall in left field to put the Rebels up 5-0 after one inning.

“It’s good. It’s a confidence builder,” Torres said before offering some observations on Douglas County’s starting pitcher, who was yanked after Tanner’s two-run homer made it 8-0 with no outs in the second inning.

“He was usually throwing first-pitch fastballs, and sometimes throw a curve,” Torres said. “I was just sitting on that fastball.”

Columbine led 10-0 after three innings before the Huskies got a run in the top of the fifth off reliever Colin Miller. Guzman singled in the bottom of the fifth and Tanner drew a walk to set up Hagen’s game-winning RBI single.

Guzman (1-0) won his first varsity start as the left-hander allowed four hits, struck out three and walked five. The fact that Guzman stranded nine Huskies on base was a testament to his ability to limit the damage he allowed.

In the first inning, Guzman had two runners in scoring position with one out, only to get an out at home plate and a line drive to Torres to end the inning and strand three Huskies.

He walked two in the second inning but got out with a play at third, and he loaded the bases again in the third inning and escaped with a strikeout.

“It shows the battle in him,” Gillman said of Guzman.