PEACH VALLEY — Cristian Corona knew exactly what he was doing when he rounded first base in the fourth inning against the Aspen High School baseball. What Corona did over the course of the game was a big reason the Coal Ridge Titans rallied to beat the Skiers on Thursday.
Corona, a Coal Ridge senior, completed the cycle with the fourth-inning double that, typically, would have been a line-drive single to center field. That performance was part of the Titans’ rally from an early 7-2 deficit for a 15-7 victory in a Class 3A Western Slope League game at the Coal Ridge High baseball field.
“Oh, I knew where I stood,” Corona said. “I wanted it, so I just went for it. I didn’t think that they would get me out.”
The Skiers (0-5 overall, 0-3 league play) never did get Corona out at the plate. He finished 4-for-4 batting with four RBIs, four runs scored, a stolen base, a walk and, obviously, a single, double, triple and home run. His homer turned out to be the inside-the-park kind of homer, and it drove in Jerome Pizzelli from third base to answer Aspen’s four-run first inning.
Overall, the Titans finished with 14 hits, which was by far their best offensive performance of the season. And it came against a Skiers squad that broke out the bats early, getting seven of the eight hits they tallied in the game in the first three innings to take a 7-2 lead.
“That was fantastic. I loved that,” first-year Aspen baseball coach Ryan Triece said. “That’s what we wanted to do at the beginning, and we were hoping to hold on to that. But we had one bad inning.”
Coal Ridge (1-4, 1-3) was able to knot the score at 7-all with a five-run third inning, then took the lead for good in the fourth with an eight-run frame. The Titans needed only two hits to tie the score in the third, but the eight hits Coal Ridge got in the fourth chased Aspen starter Pat Martin and helped put the Titans up to stay.
“I was wondering when that was going to finally happen,” first-year Coal Ridge coach Dan Larsen said. “We’ve had a lot of hitting, but not a lot of clutch hitting. This was something different.”
Coal Ridge’s Pizzelli finished 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored and a sacrifice. Kevin Grivey tripled and Pat Steinbach finished 2-for-2 with an RBI and a sacrifice. Richie Winkler picked up the victory on the mound for the Titans, allowing no runs and two hits in three innings of relief for Steinbach, who started the game for Coal Ridge.
Martin paced Aspen’s offense with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. Aspen’s Harry Kahn had a two-run single in the first inning that was part of the Skiers’ four-run first frame that gave them an early 4-0 cushion.
Corona, however, sliced the Skiers’ lead in half with his inside-the-parker in the bottom of the first.
“I’m not the fastest runner at all, but the ball went in the right place,” said Corona, who hit the ball into a large gap between outfielders in right-center field. “It just felt great off the bat.”
Aspen’s offense kept rolling, though, as an RBI single from Cole Schwab, a bases-loaded walk from Daniel Kincaid and a sacrifice fly from John Stryker pushed the Skiers’ lead to 7-2.
That’s when the Titans responded with a five-run frame to tie it, then took the lead for good when Greyson Keener’s two-run single drove in Corona and Winkler to spark the Titans’ eight-run inning.
Aspen is off until April 1 when the Skiers play a league doubleheader at Olathe. Coal Ridge is also off until April 1 when the Titans host Roaring Fork.