Geckos split doubleheader with Vipers
Looking to add onto their league-leading record, the Glenwood Geckos appeared to be well on their way to an afternoon doubleheader sweep of the visiting Vail Vipers, Tuesday at Ron Patch Memorial Field in Carbondale before blowing a seven-run lead in game two to split the twin-billing.
The Geckos took care of business in game one, rolling to a 9-2 win as starting sophomore pitcher Cooper Webster of Lane Community College kept the Vipers off-balance throughout his start, picking up the complete-game win.
Webster was backed by an explosive offense as former Roaring Fork standout Tanner Nieslanik — a future member of the Colorado Mesa Mavericks — went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in on a double into the right-center gap, giving the Geckos a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
From there, Glenwood then scored three more runs in the inning as redshirt senior catcher Brian Magana of Azusa Pacific University walked, junior first baseman Anthony Rosario of Rochester (Minnesota) Community College singled and sophomore infielder Tate Spivey of Blue Mountain Community College capped off the inning with a booming three-run home run to right field, making it 5-1 Geckos through five.
With Webster holding down the fort on the mound, the Geckos continued to pound out hits as sophomore centerfield Garrett Myers of Lower Columbia College reached on an error to start the sixth before Nieslanik singled to right and sophomore Blake Billinger of Mission (Calif.) College drove in both with a three-run home run to center, making it 8-1 Geckos.
Rosario then went back-to-back with Billinger, hitting a towering home run to right to cap off the scoring on the day for the Geckos.
Vail would add one more run in the top of the seventh on a solo home run before Webster slammed the door shut to seal the Geckos’ 15th win of the season.
Starting game two, former Glenwood Springs ace Chase Nieslanik took the hill for the Geckos hoping to finish off the sweep of the Vipers.
The former Demon and current redshirt sophomore of the University of Nebraska-Kearney lefty breezed through two innings as the Glenwood offense picked up right where they left off in game one, scoring four early runs thanks to a rundown that failed for Vail, a two-run double to left-center by sophomore infielder Joey Medeiros of Mission (Calif.) College, and a solo shot to left by Myers to make it 4-0 after two innings.
Vail answered with a solo home run of its own in the top of the third inning before Nieslanik got out of the inning without further damage.
Holding a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Geckos looked to pull away. Fortunately for Glenwood they did just that — for the time being — as redshirt freshman third baseman Jacob Anderson of Fullerton College hit a two-out single to center. Billinger then lined a single to right, putting runners at first and third with two outs.
Rosario then followed with an RBI single to make it 5-1 before sophomore outfielder Caden Goldby of Yavapai College came through with a towering three-run home run to make it 8-1 for Glenwood.
Unfortunately for the Geckos, that’s when the wheels came off. Nieslanik recorded just one out in the top of the fifth while allowing three runs before giving way to redshirt freshman righthander Jake McAvoy of College of Siskiyous.
The righthander gave up a two-run double to the first batter he faced before inducing a groundout to get the second out of the inning.
Before giving way to big sophomore righthander Jackson Hokum of Fullerton College, McAvoy allowed a double to right-center to make it 8-7. Hokum then came on and induced a pop-out to second base to get out of the jam.
Glenwood then went down in order rather quickly in the bottom of the fifth on a hot day, putting Hokum back out on the mound for more work. After recording a pop-out to first, Hokum then ran into trouble, giving up a single to center field before then walking three straight hitters to force in the go-ahead run.
Redshirt freshman righthander Josh Davis, of Oregon Tech University, came on in relief and walked the first batter he faced to give Vail a 9-8 lead before getting out of the bases loaded jam, inducing a 4-6-3 double-play to give the Geckos a shot at tying the game.
But it just wasn’t meant to be as Myers led off with a single before getting picked off by the Vail catcher at first base. Anderson then smoked a ball to left field that looked to be over the fence, but the Vail left fielder make a tremendous catch at the fence to preserve the lead, closing out the 9-8 loss for the Geckos.
Sitting at 15-4 on the year, Glenwood leads the Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
The players will look to extend their league-leading record on Thursday against the Eagle Valley Eagles in Eagle County.
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