Roaring Fork takes doubleheader from Gunnison
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
CARBONDALE, Colorado – One big challenge resulted in one big comeback for the Roaring Fork High School baseball team on Saturday.
Granted, the Rams did rally from an early one-run deficit to Gunnison to win the first game of their 3A Western Slope League doubleheader, 12-2, at the Carbondale Middle School baseball field.
But the big comeback came in the fourth inning of the second game. After the Cowboys reeled off seven runs in the top half of the frame, a quick speech from coach Marty Madsen helped inspire the Rams to an 11-run outburst on their way to a 22-14 victory and a sweep of the twin bill.
“I looked at them and I challenged them,” Madsen said. “I asked them, ‘What kind of team are we going to be? Is this going to be it? Are we just going to pack it in? Or are we going to come back and respond to this?’
“We got the response we were looking for.”
And what a response it was for the Rams (4-2 overall and WSL play). They sent 15 batters to the plate – 10 of whom reached base before the first out was recorded – and quickly turned an 8-3 deficit into a 14-8 cushion headed into the Cowboys’ half of the fifth inning.
“It’s real nice to know that we can respond like that,” said Clay Gross, the Rams starting pitcher who was cruising along until Gunnison’s offensive outburst. “Last year we scored 22 in a game on them, too, and we had a lot of confidence at the plate once things really got going.”
Gross sure didn’t just sit and watch as the Rams peppered Gunnison relief pitchers Jesse Duft and Caleb Wilson. He had an RBI double and a sacrifice fly in the inning, and his bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning capped a 3-for-5 game with six RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Seven of the nine players in Roaring Fork’s lineup scored at least two runs.
“This year, it seems like we’re a whole team,” Gross said. “We’re not real dominant on one side of the lineup, and we don’t have a lot of studs. We have a lot of people who can contribute, and we play together to win.”
Thomas Cerise finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs with a pair of walks and three runs scored in the second game. He was also big on the mound in the opener, allowing two runs in six innings with a pair of walks and strikeouts.
“Thomas was big for us in the first game,” Madsen said.
Oscar Olivas finished 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles in the opener, including a two-run double in the fifth inning to put Roaring Fork up 10-1 and paving the way to the Rams’ victory in six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. He kept it going in the second game, too, as his two-run single to left field in the bottom of the third drove in Cerise and Tanner Gianinetti for a 3-1 Roaring Fork lead.
Gunnison (2-5, 2-4 WSL play) broke through in the top half of the fourth, though. Ryan Castello led off with a single and scored after he stole second base and came home on Duft’s single. Cody Henry doubled in Duft, Dirk Schumacher walked, and, after Gross struck out Taylor Miller on five pitches, Jacob Ost followed with a two-run single in an inning that staked the Cowboys to their five-run cushion.
The Rams didn’t waste time in the bottom half of the inning, though. Nate Nieslanik walked to lead off the inning, Trent Reeds and Gross hit back-to-back doubles, Cerise and Danny Javalera singled, and Shea Nieslanik walked to chase Duft from the mound. Roaring Fork needed only five base hits to put up double figures in the inning.
And that big comeback just kept coming as the game went on, As the Rams padded their lead through the final three innings while Roaring Fork relievers Alex Fisher and Alex Larson did just enough on the mound to prevent another Cowboys comeback.
“That (fourth) inning could be a pretty big turning point in our season,” Madsen said. “I just hope that it’ll carry over.”
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