Contact. That was all the Steamboat Springs baseball team worked on offensively during Monday's practice. There was no machine. No batting practice. There were tees and soft toss stations.
Tuesday, the Sailors finally got the offensive breaks they couldn't buy during a recent five-game skid and beat Moffat County, 9-7, in Craig to sweep the regular season series.
Steamboat coach Sean Hicks said maybe it was Monday's emphasis on contact that helped the Sailors pound out 10 hits and nine runs Tuesday, but he couldn't be sure.
The only thing he knew was that Steamboat rallied from a 5-0 deficit, and he couldn't have been prouder.
"They did a great job today," Hicks said. "To get down in the first inning and not hang their heads shows that what the other team did had no affect on them."
The way it started, the game could have been over in five, ending in a Steamboat loss as opposed to a much-needed win.
Moffat County, the visiting team because the game was moved from Steamboat, opened the first inning with five runs on five hits, including a three-run homer by senior Nick Goodenow and a two-run shot off the bat of freshman Brian Richards.
"We got off to a great start and then went flat and didn't start to hit the ball hard until the fifth inning," Bulldogs coach Scott Parker said. "But Steamboat made plays."
The Bulldogs chased Steamboat starter Teal Taylor after a third of an inning, which ended up costing Moffat County in the long run.
Junior Ben Montoya, who attends Soroco High School, entered in relief. He retired sophomore Bryan Wojtkiewicz on a sacrifice bunt and got leadoff batter Jared Lowther to ground out to shortstop Sean Murphy to end the inning.
Montoya's previous pitching experience for Steamboat consisted of two innings over the weekend in Palisade, Hicks said. But the Sailors' coach liked what he saw and called on the infielder again Tuesday.
"I was hoping to get one inning out of him," Hicks said.
Montoya went six and two-thirds before Murphy came in to pick up the save.
"I knew I had the ability, but we hadn't been needing pitchers," Montoya said. "I told myself just to have fun and go out and do my job."
Tuesday was a big day for more than one Steamboat player from South Routt.
Montoya and senior Jack Means, who joined the Sailors along with John Little because Soroco didn't have enough players for a program, helped lift Steamboat on Tuesday.
Means hit a three-run homer off Lowther in the bottom of the fourth to give Steamboat a 9-5 lead and what appeared to be much-needed insurance runs at the time.
It wound up being the game-winning hit after Richards' line-drive home run to right in the top of the seventh brought the Bulldogs back to within two.
"I think I was pulling my head, and coach pulled me aside," said Means, who struck out in his previous two at-bats.
Murphy, who surrendered the home run, got senior Jody Moncrief to line out to senior Chris Dombey in right and retired freshman Brad Grinstead on an easy pop up to the mound to end the game.
Offensively, Richards led the way for Moffat County, going 2-for-4 with 4 RBI. He also pitched three solid innings before being chased in the fourth.
For Steamboat, Means and Dombey each had 3 RBI and Murphy went 3-for-4 from the plate.
With the win, the Sailors improve to 6-6 overall and 3-6 in Western Slope League play. The Bulldogs drop to 7-6 overall and 4-3 in the league.
Steamboat returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday with a doubleheader in Rifle. Moffat County hosts Roaring Fork at 4 p.m. Thursday.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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