Steamboat Springs Tuesday afternoon was nearly perfect for Sailors baseball player Preston Stanfill.
Perfect, that was, until Moffat County slugger Jerod Estey stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning and with one swing ruined the Steamboat pitcher's afternoon.
Estey's game-winning home run came in the top of the inning with one out and two runners on base. The Sailors batters could not answer in the bottom half of the inning (Steamboat was the home team, despite the fact the game was played in Craig) and the game ended with the Bulldogs celebrating a 5-2 win.
"I came into the game wondering how I was going to throw to him. Last year in the game against Craig I only gave up one home run and it was to him," Stanfill said. "I wanted to try to shut him down, but he took advantage of the mistakes I made. I left the ball over the middle of the plate and when you're up against a player as good as him, you can't do that kind of stuff."
Estey's extra-inning heroics lifted the Moffat County Bulldogs to the win, but the Moffat County senior's performance on the mound was equally as impressive.
Estey proved to be the one hurdle that Stanfill and the Sailors just couldn't clear.
Stanfill struck out 12 batters, gave up seven hits and three walks in eight innings of work. Unfortunately, three of those hits cleared the fence at the Craig Middle School where the game was played. Two of the hits -- including the one that tied the game and the one that gave Moffat the win -- came off of Estey's bat.
Estey was also a problem on the mound for the Sailors. He struck out 14 Steamboat batters, allowed just five hits and didn't give up a walk in the game.
Ryan Marsden was the only Sailor to tag the Craig pitcher. He swatted a high fastball for an RBI double in the fourth inning.
"It was high and outside, so I just drove it the other way," Marsden said. Steamboat's Tyler Fosdick scored earlier in the inning when a bad Moffat County throw allowed him to trot across home plate on the error.
But that was the last time the Sailors would get to Estey in the game.
"He threw a hell of a game. He just brought heat the whole time," Stanfill said. "I didn't expect anything less out of him. He's just a good player."
The Bulldogs' scores came in the top of the fourth inning when Jon Bugay sent a Stanfill pitch screaming over the fence in center field. Estey's first home run of the game came in the sixth inning, with two outs.
"It was a hard-fought game," Estey said. "It's always tough to be on the mound in the bottom of the seventh with the game tied. But we did what we needed to and got the win."
The victory lifted the Bulldogs to 5-2 on the season and left the Sailors asking "what if?" as they walked off the field.
"We did a lot of things right in this game," Marsden said. "We played hard until the last inning when we gave up the home run. There was nothing we could do about that."
A doubleheader against Delta on Saturday is next for the Sailors, who fell to 1-7 after Tuesday's loss to the Bulldogs. Moffat County will host Battle Mountain on Thursday afternoon.
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