Steamboat Springs Soroco baseball coach Steve Longwell knows that if his ball club is going to have a good day, his leadoff hitter Westley Milway needs to make contact with the ball.
"It seems that anytime Wes comes out as the leadoff hitter and hits the ball and gets on base, then we usually produce some runs," Longwell said
That was true Wednesday night, when the Rams took on the Steamboat Springs Sailors at Simillion Field.
Milway had three hits in four trips to the plate, including two home runs, and the Rams rolled past the Sailors, 13-1.
"I was just waiting for the right pitch to hit and these guys were putting them into my zone," Milway said. "I just turned on them."
Milway's teammates also came out fast, scoring five runs in the first inning. Steamboat threatened in the first. But with runners at first and third, Tanner Barr hit a hard line drive that turned into a tailor-made double play.
In the second, the Rams extended their lead by a run on Milway's first homer. Soroco's David Crofts issued a walk to Tanner Grimes. But another double-play ball brought the Sailors scoring threat to an end.
"There is nothing you can do about that," Steamboat's Jeremiah Kiely said of hitting into the two double plays. "They made the plays they needed to make."
The Rams blew the game wide open in the third inning behind home runs from Milway and Crofts.
Crofts' three-run shot was the icing on a seven-run inning for the visiting Rams. The Sailors didn't allow another run, but also couldn't score as Crofts settled in on the mound.
Steamboat's Ryan Marsden got a single with one out in the fifth. But the Rams closer, Perry Means, shut the door after, that getting the last two Steamboat hitters to ground out.
"Oak Creek has eight seniors who are very solid and they played very well," Sailors head coach John Aragon said. "Crofts pitched a good game and then they had Means come in to finish it -- and he is a quality pitcher. We had three starting varsity players out there and the young junior varsity guys learned some things, but it's just a whole different world when you are playing at the varsity level."
Steamboat had one run on three hits in the game. Joe Liefer, Marsden and Franks got the hits for Steamboat. The Rams scored 13 runs on 11 hits in the game.
Steamboat's Kiely took the loss. He pitched two innings and had four strike-outs.
The Soroco Rams will open the 2A district playoffs on Friday in Grand Junction against Dolores County.
The Dolores County team is currently ranked third in the state, according to Rams coach Steve Longwell, who is expecting a tough ball game.
"The key for us is to score four or five runs in the first inning," Longwell said. "If we can do that, it's going to change the complexion of the game."
The Rams, 5-1 in conference play this season, finished in a tie for first place in the Western Slope's 2A conference. Longwell said the Dolores County Bulldogs have five or six players hitting over .500 right now, and more than a few pitchers that can throw the ball really well.
"It's going to be a battle," Longwell said.
Steamboat will have two more games this week. Today, the Sailors travel to Carbondale to take on Basalt and, on Saturday, the regular season will come to an end with a conference showdown with Glenwood Springs at Simillion.
"It's our goal to play our best on Saturday, but we still want to come out and be competitive (today)," Kiely said. "We need to beat Glenwood if we want to play at home (in the district pigtail game) which is really our goal. We've always been the bottom team in the conference and we want to climb out of the cellar."
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com