Steamboat Springs Bulldogs coach Kip Hafey is hoping for a record-breaking crowd at tonight's baseball game at the Craig Middle School.
The contest will pit the Bulldogs (2-3) against the Sailors (0-5) in a key Western Slope rivalry starting at 4 p.m.
"I don't think it is as big a rivalry as football or basketball, but it's definitely a big game," Steamboat's Joe Liefer said.
It's also a big game that Hafey is hoping to exploit as he tries to set a single-game attendance mark for the second-straight year.
"It doesn't mean anything to us," Sailors coach Joss Vinson said of the expected crowd. "I just want my players to focus on the field and on winning the game."
Last year the Bulldogs topped the Sailors 11-3 when the teams met in Craig. That game drew 612 fans and is the current attendance record holder. But even the Moffat County coach said that the game was much closer than the score would indicate.
Steamboat led the game in the fifth inning 3-2, but then gave up eight unanswered runs to the Moffat County squad in the bottom of the inning. The Bulldogs added a late game home run to seal the win.
"It's always a good game when these two teams meet," Hafey said. "They have a good team in Steamboat and we always seem to bring out the best in one another."
Last year it was the hot bat of Rob Satterwhite, who had a two-run homer in the first, and C.J. Rugh, who knocked another ball out of the park in the sixth inning, that ended the Sailors hopes of winning. The game thrilled most of the 612 fans who showed up for the game.
Both of those players, who are now seniors, will be back for tonight's game in Craig. Hafey is hoping for the same type of fireworks and the same type of crowd.
"It's our annual Attendance Day-Family Day," Hafey said. "These two teams always seem to draw a crowd.
The event will be free to watch and the first 200 people who show up at the field will get a free coke and hot dog, as well.
"We want to beat the record," Hafey said. "It should also be a real good ball game."
The Moffat County coach thinks the game will be a key for both teams. For Steamboat it will be the first league contest of the season and a chance to turn things around after five tough preseason losses.
"Those games don't mean a thing," Liefer said. "We start for real against Moffat County."
The Bulldogs are also looking to turn things around after losing the first league contest of the season last Saturday in a nine-inning game against Rifle.
The Bears won the game, 6-5. The Bulldogs are now 2-3 for the year and 0-1 in the league.
Hafey will start Jerod Estey on the mound. Steamboat will also have to contend with the hot bat of Kevin Voorhees who is hitting .500 at the plate and Rugh with a batting average of .450.
Haffey said the Moffat County team likes the long ball. Satterwhite already has two home runs this season and the team has hit more than 30 home runs each season for the last two years.