Rams’ comeback attempt falls short against Titans

A furious rally in the final two innings by the Roaring Fork Rams came up excruciatingly short at Ron Patch Field in Carbondale Tuesday against the visiting Coal Ridge Titans, who held on for a nail-biting 10-9 win to remain in contention for the 3A Western Slope League title.

The Titans had a 9-1 lead through five innings before the Rams came back strong late in the game.

“It seemed like we relaxed and started to boot the ball around defensed,” Coal Ridge head coach Dan Larsen said. “All the credit to Roaring Fork though. They did a great job of taking advantage and battling back.”

Leading 6-1 after three innings of play thanks to a two-run single by junior catcher Tyler Slone in the first inning, an RBI double by senior Dylan Bozworth and an RBI single from junior Michael Harmon, the Titans looked to cruise to their 13th win of the season, but the young Rams had other plans.

Following an RBI double by sophomore Ralph Good to drive in sophomore Hector Pelayo, the Rams trailed 6-1. The Titans would tack on two more runs in the top of the fifth thanks to a few defensive errors by the Rams before then adding another run in the top of the fifth as Harmon raced home on a passed ball after reaching third on a triple into the right center field gap.

With the score 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Rams’ offense caught fire as Pelayo drew a lead-off base on balls. Junior Eduardo Yanez followed with a bloop single into left field, putting runners on first and second with no outs for Roaring Fork.

In prime position to add some runs, junior Aldo Pinela ripped an RBI single to left field, driving in Pelayo to make it 9-2. Unfortunately, the quick Rams rally ended as Good hit a scorching liner to third base where Greyson Keener made the play and then doubled off Pinela at first base to end the inning.

Getting through a quick top of the sixth inning, the Rams picked up right where they left off offensively as sophomore Drew Broadhurst lined a double into right field to lead off the inning. Freshman Dawson Kuhl followed with a single into right field, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Then, the big hitter in the Roaring Fork lineup — junior Hayden Bernot — missed his first home run of the season by a meer feet, lining a double off the fence in left to narrow the deficit to 9-3.

Sophomore Ronnie Petetan then came through with an RBI single of his own to make it 9-4 before Pelayo lined a two-run single into left to make it 9-6 Titans.

“They want the win — we all do — but this is the second time this week that we didn’t quit,” Roaring Fork head coach Marty Madsen said. “We’ve starting to teach the guys to take it one pitch at a time. With a lot of young kids they’re trying to do everything at once and it just doesn’t work that way. The guys have played enough ball to know that if we keep it simple that we can hang with a lot of the tough teams as long as we don’t beat ourselves.”

As the momentum built for the Rams, Coal Ridge looked to get an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning.

They did just that as senior Jake Solinger lined a single up the middle and junior Raymond Budd drew a walk. Looking to manufacture a run, Solinger and Budd attempted a double steal. The throw from Kuhl to Pelayo at third skipped off the glove of the Roaring Fork third baseman, allowing Solinger to race home for the Titans’ 10th run of the game.

Roaring Fork fortunately got out of the inning thanks to an impressive 1-3-2 double play as Bernot started things off on the mound by throwing out the runner at first, where junior Taylor Carney then turned and fired a perfect strike to Kuhl at home to tag out Budd trying to add the 11th run of the game for the Titans.

Looking to keep things going offensively, Roaring Fork loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning as Good and Bernot reached on walks, while Kuhl singled.

With the bases loaded, Petetan hit a sharp grounder to second where the Titans couldn’t get a good grip on the ball on the attempted double-play, leading to an error that allowed two runs to score, making it 10-8.

“We’re stringing things together,” Madsen said. “We’ve been taking a lot of batting practice and working on our approach. They know that if they put the ball in play good things will happen. And it did today.”

The suspense continued to mount as Pelayo singled to left, driving in Bernot to make it 10-9 Titans, but Coal Ridge ended it there as Yanez hit a sharp grounder to Solinger, who threw on to Hunter Gerber at first base to end the game on a great pick of the low throw, clinching the win.

For Coal Ridge, Nathan Nelson led the way offensively, going 3-for-5 at the plate, while Harmon, Keener and Solinger added two hits apiece. Sophomore starter Avery Newitt picked up the win, throwing three strong innings of one-hit ball, striking out two.

“He [Avery] was awesome tonight,” Larsen said. “He had been starting junior varsity games and had really progressed well. I thought tonight was a good night to give him a shot, and he ended up being our best pitcher of the night.”

For Roaring Fork, Kuhl led the way offensively with two hits, while Bernot, Good, Pelayo and Broadhurst added one hit each. Broadhurst pitched five innings, allowing just one earned run on the day.

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