Kelley Cox/Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs runner Mario Gonzalez, No. 22, is safe at second as Steamboat's Elliot Girard holds up the ball in Saturday's doubleheader at West Glenwood. Steamboat won the first game, 5-3, in eight innings. Glenwood won the second game, 22-7, in five innings.
Steamboat Springs After stranding 13 runners in a 5-3 loss to Steamboat Springs High School in the front end of a Saturday doubleheader, Glenwood Springs pent up more than its fair share of frustration.
And, in the day's second game, the Demons oh-so-cathartically churned that frustration into offense - and lots of it.
Pushing across 18 runs in the first two innings, Glenwood rebounded from its eight-inning defeat with a 22-7 thrashing in the day's encore tilt at Glenwood Springs Middle School, salvaging a split with the visiting Sailors.
Timely hitting and numerous Steamboat miscues paved the way for Glenwood to rack up seven runs in the first inning and 11 in the second. The Sailors helped matters by committing seven errors in the 18-run outburst.
The highlight of the offensive uprising: a three-run home run in the first by freshman Mario Gonzalez, who made his first varsity start in the opener.
"He did great today," said Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik, whose team stood at 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the 4A Western Slope League after the day's split.
"He came up and hit his first home run on his first day of varsity baseball."
The homer was just one of four hits on the day for Gonzalez, who had a double and a single in four at-bats in the opener and then went 2-for-3 with six RBIs in the nightcap.
Gonzalez, who manned third base defensively, seems to have set himself up nicely for a bright future in the Demon lineup.
"He just handles the bat really well," Nieslanik praised. "He proved he can play, for sure."
Another big offensive day belonged to senior Jason Whiting. He racked up five hits in six at-bats and reached base in all eight of his plate appearances. A 4-for-4 hitting clip in the opener moved him from the ninth spot in the lineup to the cleanup spot in the second game.
Pretty much every Demon came up big at the plate in that second game, which concluded after five innings courtesy of the mercy rule.
Chad Sommers was 3-for-5 with an RBI, Rocky Scholz was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. Patrick Hailey doubled home two runs in the second inning and Ben Zieman had an RBI two-bagger.
"We just buckled down and hit the ball and started hitting the ball," said Whiting, who chipped in with three innings of relief pitching work. "It felt great. Everbody was hitting the ball."
Matt Snyder got the start and the win for Glenwood, allowing three runs - two earned - and four hits in two innings.
Hailey's gem wasted
Patrick Hailey certainly pitched well enough to win Saturday's opener. The 6-foot-4 righthander routinely overpowered the Sailors with his fastball, striking out 12 batters in seven innings of six-hit ball.
Hailey's only significant hiccup came in the fourth inning when Lars Johnson bashed a leadoff double and Alex Wood followed with a two-run home run that cleared the left-center field fence.
Afterwards, Hailey lamented leaving a breaking ball up in the zone for Wood to crush.
"I just had the one mistake leaving the curveball up," he said.
Wood thought an offspeed pitch might be coming his way.
"He definitely hung that curveball," said the Sailor slugger. "I wasn't really getting with his fastball. I saw him talking to (his catcher). I thought they might be changing it up."
Glenwood got on the board first, pushing a run across on back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the third inning by Whiting and Taylor Larsen, the latter picking up the RBI.
After Steamboat went ahead on Wood's home run in the fourth, Glenwood churned out a run on two hits, two walks and a Steamboat error in the home half of the inning.
The teams matched runs in the seventh to force extras, with the Sailors hanging three singles on Hailey - none particularly well struck.
It all unraveled for Glenwood in the eighth. Cole Ullom came in to relieve Hailey and the Glenwood defense came apart at the seams. Two errors and a walk turned into two Steamboat runs.
The Demons put runners on the corners with two outs in their half of the eighth but just couldn't come up with the clutch hit they needed to complete the comeback.
"It was a great game to be involved in but a tough one to lose," Nieslanik said. "We made mistakes and gave the game away."
While Hailey had his game going on the mound, so did Steamboat's Lars Johnson. He turned in six innings of eight-hit, nine-strikeout ball for the Sailors (2-5 overall, 1-1 in the 4A WSL). Wood came on in relief to pick up the win, striking out three in the final two innings.
Lars "did a nice job," Steamboat coach Dave Roy lauded. "He had a great rate - almost 70 percent strikes. Alex Wood did a nice job supporting him. He also had that big home run and drove in the winning run" on a sacrifice fly.