Bulldogs look for 2-0 district mark on Saturday

With a record at 10-9-1, it is probably safe to say that the Borger Bulldog baseball team has plenty to be happy with at this point of the season while also knowing there are areas the team will need to continue to improve in as they to try to claim the District 1-3A crown and make a playoff run.The Bulldogs opened district play this past Tuesday where the team came away with a 10-4 win over Dalhart that included a great pitching performance by senior Hunter Hertel with the righthander striking out 13 Wolf batters.Bulldog Head Coach Steve Ribera has been pleased with his pitcher so far this season saying, “Hunter has really come on to be the number one guy and the team plays well behind him. So Hunter will get as many innings as he can on the mound during district play.”With their first district win behind them, the Bulldogs will next take on the Perryton Rangers tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in Perryton. The Bulldogs and Rangers have had some great games the past couple of years, but unfortunately it has been the Rangers finding a way to come out on top with the last time the Bulldogs have beaten Perryton being in 2007.With such a losing streak to one team, one may wonder if the Bulldogs have any special animosity heading into Perryton. However, the first year coach said the team will approach this game like it will every district game, with Ribera saying, “Those past games with Perryton doesn’t mean anything to me. We have to go out and play every game like it is for the district championship and let that theme take our game to the level we need to beat anyone.”At this point of the season, Ribera has been fairly pleased with what he has seen from the Bulldogs at the plate, saying, “Most of the lineup has come on to swing the bats at a higher level. We just need more consistency from 1-9 in the order to get where we want to go.”Going into the season, Bulldog fans expected good production at the plate from seniors Garrett Irwin and Brandon Garcia along with junior Max Lusk, who is hitting at the lead-off spot in the lineup. However, two players that have shown great improvement at the plate since last season have been Hertel and senior rightfielder Zach McDonald.Ribera agrees, saying, “Those two are fierce competitors and they have tried to do whatever helps this team win. I put them in the three and five holes respectively and they have answered the challenge to give our lineup power and consistency.”The team has yet to have one arm step up to be the clear number two option behind Hertel on the pitcher’s mound. However, Ribera has confidence in his other three arms, Irwin, Acton Smith and Chayse Tracy in being able to step up their game when called on in district play in either the relief role or as a starter.Ribera said that the team’s defense has been shaky at times during the season, but with the team putting together two error-free games the coach hopes the team has put those issues behind them and will be consistent on the field through district play.For tomorrow’s game, the Rangers are coming into the contest losing their district opener to Pampa 3-1 on Tuesday, so expect a Ranger team that is focused on bouncing back to get into the district win column.After Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs will next travel over to Pampa on Tuesday afternoon to take on the Harvesters at 5:00 p.m.The Bulldogs defeated the Harvesters in extra innings earlier this season to claim the Cavalier Classic Tournament title. While Ribera is quick to point out that his team has improved since their last meeting, the coach expects to see an improved Harvesters squad as well.