Craig The players on the Steamboat Springs baseball team kept their promise.
All assistant coach Aaron Voldness wanted was effort, and despite the Sailors' 6-2 loss to Moffat County on Tuesday, he felt his team held up its end of the bargain.
"Before the game I made the guys promise that they were going to play as hard as they could all day long," Voldness said. "They were a different team (Tuesday). They were the team coach (Sean) Hicks and I know they can be."
With the high school on spring break, the team was down to 11 players. With the one-game suspension handed down to Hicks after being thrown out of an April 13 game, the Sailors were also minus a coach, but they hung in with a Bulldogs team few gave them a chance to beat.
Actually starting pitcher Preston Stanfill may have been more accurate when he said, "Nobody gave us a chance to win."
And Steamboat didn't, but it was hard to tell from the smiles and upbeat attitude in the dugout after the game.
"This is definitely something to build on," Voldness said. "They didn't need a win. They just needed to play like they know they can play."
The Sailors got on the board first in their half of the second inning. Tanner Barr's lead-off double was followed by Stanfill's RBI single down the left-field line. Stanfill promptly stole second much to the delight of his teammates and the crowd. David May laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Stanfill to third, and the pitcher came in on a wild pitch to put Steamboat quickly ahead 2-0.
But the lead was short-lived. Moffat County tied the game up in the third when its first and second batters walked and came around to score. Run No. 1 came off an RBI single. Run No. 2 came after a player stole home.
Steamboat's Joseph Liefer and Jordan Gunderson reached base in the third, but a trick play from the Bulldogs caught Liefer off guard and he was picked off at second base.
In the top of the fourth, Stanfill surrendered his third walk of the game, and the runner came around to score, giving Moffat County a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Voldness said he planned to remove Stanfill in the fifth, but the junior convinced his coach to leave him in. A lead-off single and error from his defense put Stanfill in an early hole, which deepened when both Bulldogs players crossed home. Stanfill stepped up, however, with a solid defensive play off the mound and an inning-ending strikeout.
"This is our archrival and we played strong," Stanfill said. "We didn't let down. We went down swinging."
Unfortunately for Steamboat, so did Moffat County. In the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs cushioned their 5-2 lead with a lead-off home run off Stanfill. An infield single followed, and Voldness swapped David May and Stanfill between first and the mound.
May didn't allow a run, striking out four in two innings of relief work.
Down by four, Steamboat didn't give up in the seventh. With two outs and Ryan Marsden at second, Tyler Fosdick singled to right, setting up a play at the plate. A perfect throw from right to home gave the Bulldogs catcher plenty of time to tag Marsden out to end the game.
"We were in there," Barr said. "We just have to get our sticks going."
The loss drops the Sailors to 0-13 on the year. With some confidence, they will look to get their first win of the year Saturday at Rifle.