Freshman Nieslanik no-hits Basalt; Roaring Fork wins, 2-0 |

Freshman Nieslanik no-hits Basalt; Roaring Fork wins, 2-0

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan contributed photoJohnny Nieslanik pitched a no-hitter against Basalt on Tuesday.

BASALT, Colorado – With bats struggling mightily, Roaring Fork needed starter Johnny Nieslanik to be nearly perfect Tuesday.

He delivered.

Showcasing control and confidence that belie his experience, the freshman no-hit the rival Longhorns, working around four errors with nine strikeouts and just one walk in seven strong innings. The Rams compiled just four hits and two runs – one unearned – but it was more than enough to improve to 11-2.

“As far as the bats, this was our worst showing of the year. Our defense wasn’t very good either,” Roaring Fork head coach Tim Nieslanik said. “Everybody has a day like that. It was our turn. … At least [Johnny] was on.”

Johnny Nieslanik faced the minimum in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and was rarely tested.

Basalt’s Chantry West reached on an infield error to lead off the second, advancing to second on an errant throw to first base. Nieslanik quelled the threat, however, inducing a fly out and striking out Valente Perez and Corey Ostrander in succession.

During one stretch, Nieslanik struck out four straight Longhorns, many on a sharp-biting breaking ball that had the home team looking perplexed all afternoon.

“Johnny has a mean curveball,” Basalt head coach Craig Frederick said.

“It’s been working like that since the beginning of the season,” Johnny Nieslanik added. “I had a little bit of trouble with it in the first game, but it’s an instinct now. I know where to place it, and how to release the ball.

“It definitely feels great [to help my team].”

The Rams needed it. An offense that erupted for 15 runs in a mercy-rule shortened win over the Longhorns on April 6 had little success Tuesday against Kyp Schoon and Blake Scherer.

Jake Strack-Loertscher’s bid for his eighth home run of the season clipped the base of the wall in center in the first inning, driving in Shea Nieslanik.

After Schoon had retired 10 straight, Clay Gross reached on a bobbled ground ball to open the fifth. He came around to score on another error.

Schoon allowed just three hits in five-plus innings before being lifted for Scherer, following Trenton Reeds’ single to center to lead off the sixth inning.

Scherer wiggled out of trouble after hitting Strack-Loertscher and surrendering a single to Gross by striking out Alex Rascon and Thomas Cerise to leave the bases loaded.

“They did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Coach Nieslanik said. “We were out in front on everything and couldn’t adjust. … We feel very fortunate. They dang sure could’ve put it on us.”

Not with Johnny Nieslanik on the mound.

After recording two outs on just four pitches in the seventh, he showed some rare nerves, overthrowing a fastball to walk West. Strack-Loertscher jogged out to the mound.

“He just told me to calm down and not focus on the baserunner,” the Ram pitcher remembered.

He did just that, firing a high fastball past Schoon to seal the win.

Only later did Johnny Nieslanik find out how much he had accomplished.

“I didn’t know [I was throwing a no-hitter],” he said. “After that last pitch I threw, I walked to the dugout and [our assistant coach] told me.

“It’s a team effort. I was just trying to do my job.”

The Rams host a doubleheader (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) with Cedaredge on Saturday. The Longhorns take on Aspen at 3 p.m. Thursday in El Jebel.

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