Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs head baseball coach John Aragon may have wished that Zach Chicione still lived in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday evening.
The Glenwood Springs player, who used to live and play baseball in Steamboat, led the Demons hit parade in the district pigtail game at Simillion Field. The Demons won the contest 19-4 and will advance into the district playoffs to face top-seeded Moffat County on Saturday.
"We are excited," Glenwood Springs coach Mike Wilde said of facing Moffat County. "We've beat them twice in a row. I don't know if we have their number or not, but our kids are confident."
The Glenwood players were also confident at the plate in Tuesday's game, and may have been motivated by last Saturday's 12-11 loss to the Sailors. Steamboat had beaten Glenwood Springs twice in the regular season prior to the district playoff game.
In the pigtail game, Chicoine went three-for-five at the plate with a single, a two-run double and a two-run homer. His teammates were also hot, collecting 18 hits in six innings of play. All of the Demons in the lineup had at least one hit.
"We worked a lot on left-handed pitching in practice yesterday, so that when Miah (Jeremiah Kiely) came into the game, we would be ready for him," Wilde said. "We told the kids to be patient at the plate and it paid off."
The Sailors struggled to get hits off of Demons pitcher Tom Ahren. Ahren collected seven strikeouts and gave up just six hits during the game. He also issued six walks but, for the most part, Steamboat couldn't take advantage of his mistakes.
The lone exception was left fielder Tanner Barr, who was two-for-two with an RBI.
"I think we were just as motivated as they were," Barr said of his team. "We were never able to fire up at the plate and then we couldn't stop the ball and make the plays on defense."
Steamboat did surge in the bottom of the second, scoring all four of its runs in that inning.
Jeremiah Kiely earned a walk and Jordy Gunderson ripped a single to set the inning up. Then a key hit by John Aragon Jr. brought in two runs. Singles by Joe Liefer and Barr brought in two more runs before the inning came to a close.
But Glenwood answered with three more in third and eventually chased Steamboat pitcher Gunderson from the game. Kiely came in, but the Glenwood hitters still collected two runs in the fourth inning and two in the fifth.
"We had everything on the line," Sailor Liefer said. "We tried to leave it all on the field, and we were pumped up before the game. But it just didn't happen."
In the sixth inning, the Demons hammered the home team and sealed the win. Brandon Chicoine got things started with an infield single. A throwing error allowed two runs to come in during the play. The very next at-bat, his older brother, Zach, sent a home run over the fence and crushed any hope the Sailors had of a comeback.
Ahrens polished the Sailors off in the bottom of the inning and the Demons earned the right to advance to the next round of the district playoffs.
Those playoffs will take place in Craig Saturday. Glenwood and Moffat County will play in the early game at 10 a.m. The Rifle Bears and Delta Panthers will play at 1 p.m. The championship contest is slated for 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Sailors will prepare for a busy summer. The team will lose just two seniors this season -- Jeremiah Kiely and Brain Grassby.
"That (the future of the team) is the main thing we talked about after the game," Liefer said. "We got some coaching this year, and next year we will have the same coaches and we are going to go on and keep improving."
Steamboat finished the season in fourth place in the five team Western Slope Conference. The Sailors were 3-6 in conference games and 3-16 overall.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org