Sailors baseball thrilled with rare home opportunity | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors baseball thrilled with rare home opportunity

— There's one Steamboat Springs sporting phenomena rarer than a solo gondola car on a powder day, rarer than kayaks on the Yampa in August and rarer than mountain biking in March, and Monday, it happened.

The Steamboat Springs High School baseball team played a home game.

It's not exactly your once-in-a-decade occurrence, but for many high school baseball players who've come through Steamboat, it's more a "once-a-career" highlight. Despite a lopsided game Monday, a 15-3 loss to Basalt, the Sailors soaked up the sun and enjoyed their day at home.

"It meant a lot to get to play here," senior Solomon Weltzheimer said after the game. "We don't get home games too often. It's usually full of snow. We had a pretty good crowd, too, which was pretty nice."

Monday's game made up for a rainout earlier in the season, and it wrapped up the 2017 campaign for the sluggin' Sailors. They finished 3-15, and some of the play that led to that record was on display Monday.

Steamboat leapt to a 2-1 lead in the first inning. Alejandro Sandoval and Nate Roach both hit their way onto base, stole second and came around to score on singles.

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That was the end of timely Steamboat hits, however. Roach lined a one-out triple into right field but couldn't make it home. Two made it on base in the fourth inning, then three in the fifth, but the Sailors never found the big hit it needed in those situations.

Defensively, walks and errors helped Basalt blow the game open in the fourth inning. The Longhorns plated 11 runs that inning, sinking Steamboat's hopes of a hometown win.

"That's pretty much been the case with every game we've played this year," coach Rusty McRight said. "We've really competed, but there have been one or two innings where the bottom falls out, and we can't make the routine plays."

The players didn't let the loss distract from the day. They said it was the oldest baseball sayings that brought them out for the sport and kept them playing through the season.

They did it for the love of the game.

"I had a lot of fun this year. Learning the game of baseball was fun and improving upon my own skills," said senior Jake Huselton, who joined the team for the first time in his career in his final year at Steamboat Springs High School.

"I'm very glad I came out," he said. "It was a great experience and a lot of fun."

It was easy to see Monday why the Sailors so rarely get to play at home.

Plenty of snow still lingered on the higher Steamboat Ski Area slopes looming over the field. Volatile spring weather showed up, too. The game started in sun then continued as a fierce wind blew in and as rain sputtered down. It then finished in sun again.

The Sailors were just happy they got the chance to play through it.

"I started as a sophomore, and I was not so good, but I came a long way, made captain two years in a row," Sandoval said. "I love baseball, and I love playing with these guys. They're good kids. We're a young team right now, but once these guys are seniors, they'll start competing, for sure."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9