California Dawn Breaks Over Aurora

Updated: July 9, 2019

Aurora, CO – 19 April, 2029

For eight long years, a shadow cast high in the mountains of the Desert Hills has kept the hopes and dreams of the Bakersfield Bears veiled in darkness. After a false dawn in 2028 and a torrent of offseason changes, the first chance for the Bakersfield faithful to see a ray of light through the darkness came on an otherwise unremarkable Monday morning in April. The opening game of the 2029 Bears-Borealis season series came with all the trappings of yet another Aurora drubbing of yet another overmatched Bears squad. All-star Aurora starter Bartolo Esquival, perfect into the sixth, looked like a man pitching to children. Bears starter Fred Womack, on the other hand, worked hard to minimize hard contact but suffered bad luck as 20-year-old rookie 1B Clyde Stinton dropped a routine two-out toss to first. Instead of ending the fifth in a scoreless tie, CF Nick Heath sent a 1-0 pitch deep into the right field stands at 107 mph to put three on the board for Aurora. Womack would suffer again from the long ball in the sixth as 1B Jose Torres lofted a two run shot just over the right field wall to put the Borealis in front 5-1. At this point, with a barely winded all-star mowing down Bears with the ruthless efficiency of an assembly line worker, the Bears faithful would be forgiven for thinking this round would go to the 8-time division winning Borealis. Fortunately for them, the Bears themselves had other ideas.

Top of the 7th, 5-1 Aurora with the Bears holding the bats. A 1-2 single to right… a 7 pitch walk… a conservative pitching change. Another single and the bases are loaded, tying run at the plate. K, 1 out. Sac fly, 2 outs, 1 run… and a worry that the Bears have already gotten as close as they’d get. Defensive guru shortstop Javier Torres takes the plate, 2 out and 2 on with the Bears trailing by three… and smokes a laser of a double to the left field gap to score two. Pinch hitting “Smokey” McGuire draws an 8 pitch walk. $25M 3B Christian Webb tears the cover off a first pitch offering by the beleagured Ron Latour scoring Torres. “Merlin” Ricks takes the plate and one might hear a pin drop in Northern Lights Park as the four run Aurora lead has evaporated. The 2-0 offering by Latour looks like a softball to Ricks as he strokes yet another double into the gap. Bears 7, Borealis 5. Little else mattered after that 6 run 7th inning explosion by the offense, as the Bears cruised to a win that meant more than any April game should. The long-awaited ray of light burst forth to blinding effect. For a moment, it felt to Bears fans that the Sun had risen and the long night of the Borealis might just have ended.

Game two did nothing to harsh that high. SP Neil Maes faced off against 2-time all-star SP Luis Nieves on short rest, but the Bears offense made Maes’ day effortless. Scoring in the first and never ceding the lead, the Bears seemed to have an easy answer for everything the Borealis accomplished. Six Bears had multi-hit days as the team totaled 21 total bases off of 16 hits in a 9-4 victory. Game three cemented into realism the Bears’ hopes for competing for the division title. Jumping out to an early 3 run lead with a crushing 455 ft home run by Ricks (after squandering a no-out bases loaded situation in the first), the Bears again never gave up the lead in a 6-4 victory which secured the sweep of their long time tormentors. Ricks ended up 3 for 3 with 2BB, 2 HRs, and 4 RBIs and easily won Player of the Game.

The Bears enjoyed a much-needed day of rest after the Aurora series, continuing their collective hangover throughout the entire following series as they were immediately and mercilessly swept by the Palm Springs Codgers.