Sailors playoff hopes dashed


— Baseball coach Gary Engle is hoping the Sailors will pick up one more game before the high school season comes to a close.

Unfortunately, it will not be in the playoffs.

Steamboat's chances of making it to the postseason came to an end long before the local team dropped a pair of games to Glenwood Springs Saturday.

This year, only the top four teams from the Western Slope Conference advance to the postseason. In the past, all seven teams played in a district tournament to determine which squads from the league got to play at the regional level.

Because Steamboat's games were snowed out earlier in the year, the squad is one game short of the state-mandated 19-game cap. That means the Sailors can still pick up a non-league game this week if they can find the right team.

"I think the chances of getting another game in are still pretty good," Engle said. "Bruce Crowhurst is trying to arrange it this week, so we will just have to wait and see what happens."

Steamboat (3-15) lost both games of a doubleheader in Glenwood last weekend. Steamboat was leading the first game 8-4 before a seventh-inning homer lifted the Demons to a 9-8 win.

Glenwood also won the second game 11-1 to secure the final Western Slope playoff spot in the regional tournament.

Delta took the top seed in the league, and was followed by Rifle and Moffat County.

Glenwood needed to win both games against the Sailors Saturday to move past Palisade for the final spot. Glenwood could still end up tied with Palisade at 6-6, but the Demons hold the tiebreaker.

For Steamboat, the disappointing finish in Glenwood could mark the end of the high school baseball season. However, Crowhurst said there is still an outside shot of lining up one more non-league game.

Whether one last game materializes or not, Engle said he thinks this year's season was a success. While it may not have shown in the team's final results, he said the team made huge strides this season.

"We were competitive in almost every game, and if we had gotten a few breaks along the way, we could have easily picked up six wins," Engle said.

He was happy to see the team wrap up the year with 22 of the squad's original 24 players. Last year, the team opened with nearly 30 players, but dropped to 11 down the stretch.

Engle credited a stronger junior varsity program, which played six out of nine scheduled games this season.

"In the past, those younger players would have seen very little playing time," Engle said. "But thanks to the JV schedule, they got out on the field this year."

Engle wants to see the JV program continue to gain momentum and thinks that will fire up the varsity team as well.

He said last weekend was a perfect example of why the JV program is needed.

"We were missing several starters because of spring break," Engle said. "But our young players stepped in and performed well and almost pulled the first game out."

It might take several years before Steamboat sees the impact of this year in the final results, but Engle feels the program is moving forward.


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