Putting it all together
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – They finally did it.
After waiting all season for his Demons to put together a full day of baseball, Glenwood Springs baseball coach Eric Nieslanik got just that on Saturday.
Behind a taut defense, timely hitting and solid pitching performances by Luke Jacob and Kevin Flohr, the Demons swept visiting Moffat County to close out the regular season on a high note. And the 5-4 and 13-3 wins they earned over the visiting Bulldogs might just be enough to extend their season.
Should Delta sweep Moffat County in a season-ending doubleheader on Tuesday, then Glenwood, Rifle and Moffat would all finish 4A Western Slope League play with 6-8 records. Tiebreakers would then dictate which team would represent the league as its fourth and final state playoff qualifier. Delta, Palisade and Eagle Valley already have the top three spots nailed down.
Neither Nieslanik nor Moffat County coach Justin Folley had a firm grasp of how, exactly, the league’s tiebreaker system is structured.
“We’ll see what happens,” Nieslanik said with a smile. “If we get to come back out, we’ll give it a shot.”
Taylor Parsons certainly wasn’t looking to walk. Up with one out and the bases loaded in the home half of the seventh and final inning, Parsons and Moffat County relief pitcher Halen Raymond engaged in a battle.
Parsons coaxed six pitches out of Raymond before a high and tight offering on a 3-2 pitch forced home the winning run in the Demons’ 5-4 triumph.
At one point in the at-bat, Parsons found himself ahead in the count, 3-1. Rather than take all the way, the senior swung the bat and sent a soft liner just over the third baseman’s head that dropped maybe a few inches wide of the foul line.
“I knew it was one of my last at-bats,” Parsons said. “I was looking to go out with a hit. I wanted to get it for my team. If I walked, I walked.”
By walking, he capped a two-run rally. Garrett Hatch drove in the inning’s first run, sending a grounder up the center of the diamond that Moffat County second baseman Greg Blackson knocked down with a dive. Blackson’s throw to first was wild, allowing Mario Gonzalez to score from second base.
Gonzalez had walked earlier in the inning. He advanced to second on a single by Collin Thornton.
The seventh-inning rally was no doubt cathartic for Nieslanik and the Demons, who put runners on second and third with nobody out in the fifth without scoring and then left the bases loaded in the sixth.
Glenwood had no issues scoring runs in the third inning, putting up three runs on a home run by Gonzalez. Austin Page led off the inning with a walk. Jacob followed with a single to put two on for the big-hitting third baseman.
Moffat County put three runs on the board in the second inning and went ahead in the top of the seventh on an infield single by Bubba Ivers.
Jacob pitched the distance in notching the win for the Demons, scattering four hits and striking out nine.
Jacob and Flohr were each 2-for-4 at the plate for Glenwood. Gonzalez and Page were 1-for-2 and Thornton and Cody Derby each went 1-for-4.
Glenwood rode its offense to a win via mercy rule in the nightcap.
Gonzalez was the chief catalyst, unloading on a belt-high fastball for a grand slam in the fourth inning. He finished the game 2-for-2 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
Gonzalez’s grand slam, which soared high and well over the center-field wall, was the third of his high school career. He hit one as a sophomore last spring and now has two this season. He remembers hitting a few in Little League, but those were usually a bit more involved.
“Well, we never had fences, so not over the fence,” Gonzalez said with a laugh. “Just inside-the-park ones.”
The Demons scratched out four runs in the first inning, five in the fourth and then four more in the fifth to finish off the Bulldogs.
Jacob went 2-for-2 with a double for Glenwood. Flohr was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Hatch and Thornton were both 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Robert Reynolds and Carlos Hernandez each chipped in with a hit.
Flohr pitched the full five innings for the win, holding Moffat County to six hits while striking out four.
“I wish we would have played like this all year, man,” Gonzalez said of Saturday’s sweep. “Sometimes it comes out. Sometimes we’re on and sometimes we’re down. Today was a good day.”
“By far, this was our best full day of baseball,” said Nieslanik, whose team improved to 9-10 overall. “I just told them when we walked off, ‘What a day to go out after all the stuff we’ve been through as a team, with mixing and matching the lineup because of some of the issues we’ve had. … What a way to leave. Remember this day.’ This is a good day to go out on, for sure.”
While the Demons are done with the regular season, Moffat County has some work to do on Tuesday. The formula for advancement is simple enough: Win one game and the Bulldogs are in.
With a number of different ways for tiebreakers to play out, that’s the surest path to the playoffs.
“They’ll bounce back for Tuesday,” Folley said of his team, which is now 8-7 overall. “It’s at our park. … Playing the No. 1 team in our conference should get them riled up for it. Hopefully, we can bounce back and do what we’re supposed to do.”
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.