9-run sixth inning keys late comeback win for Roaring Fork baseball
Facing a 5-1 deficit in the top of the sixth inning and any chance of a postseason berth hanging in the balance, the Roaring Fork Rams baseball team exploded for nine runs in the inning, coming all the way back to take a 10-6 lead before ultimately hanging on for a 10-7 win over the Grand Valley Cardinals Thursday afternoon in Parachute.
Thursday’s game was originally scheduled as a doubleheader in Carbondale between the two 3A Western Slope League opponents, but bad weather in Carbondale forced the game to be moved to Parachute. The change in venue played a role in the Rams’ slow start as Grand Valley jumped out to a 4-1 lead after three innings, thanks to an RBI single in the first inning by junior Austin White, an error on the Rams, and an RBI double down the left-field line by senior Brandon Millius in the third inning, putting the Rams on their heels early.
Along with Grand Valley’s offense, White dealt early on the mound, keeping the Roaring Fork hitters off balance while locating his fastball well.
“He threw really well,” said Marty Madsen, Roaring Fork’s longtime head coach. “He located the fastball enough to keep us off balance and had a pretty decent curveball. We’ve been working on really trying to hit our pitch, and when you start doing that with some of these guys in our group, they tend to have too fine of a strike zone and take too many pitches. Sometimes you just have to let it loose and expect to hit the ball.”
White continued to keep the Rams off balance, allowing his offense to tack on two more runs as Millius walked in the fifth, stole second and then scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 5-1.
Holding a 4-run lead, the Cardinals were just six outs away from a key league win over the visiting Rams, but Roaring Fork found its groove at the plate and roared all the way back with nine runs in the sixth.
In the big inning, senior Dawson Kuhl reached first on a hit by pitch with one out before stealing second base. Junior Frankie Harrington then drove in Kuhl with an RBI single before scoring later on a wild pitch to make it 5-3 Grand Valley.
Senior Kelvin Requeno followed Kuhl with a walk, and sophomore Graham Pietsch then reached on an error, which allowed Requeno to score, making it 5-4. Sophomore Finn Leahy then struck out but reached first on the passed ball, allowing Pietsch to score, tying the game at 5-5. Freshman David Good walked to load the bases, setting up a two-run double by junior Eli Nickamin that made it 7-5 Roaring Fork. Senior Layne Crisp quickly followed with an infield single to make it 8-5 he then moved up to second on a wild pitch.
All of that led to a majestic two-run home run from Kuhl that made it 10-5 Roaring Fork.
“We told him to be aggressive, swing at good strikes and put a couple good swings on it,” said Madsen. “Dawson got one he liked, and he put a great swing on it. In that sixth inning, having the guys relax a little bit really helped. They’re starting to figure out that baseball is a full game, and that you have to adjust and make changes throughout the game. We eventually did that and wore [Austin] White down. Dawson’s two-run homer flipped the switch for us.”
Holding the 10-5 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Rams looked to close out the game. Grand Valley wouldn’t go quietly, though, as junior Brandon Radel walked and scored on a wild pitch to make it 10-6 heading into the final inning of play.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, down to their final three outs, the Cardinals tried to rally as junior Dylan Mueller singled with one out and raced home on a single by junior Garrett Blair. That would be all for the Cardinals, though, as the Rams slammed the door for the 3A WSL win.
The second game started late after a lengthy first game, which led to the two teams getting in just three innings in the non-league matchup before it was called due to darkness. In the second game, the Rams held an 11-3 lead at the time the game was called.
“The second game was the best baseball we’ve played all year,” said Madsen. “[David] Good threw really well, located the ball well, and we started to put good swings on every pitch we swung at. We’re playing really good baseball right now.”
Madsen added that the Cardinals don’t want to make up the called game, so it will be up to CHSAA to determine what happens with the second game of the doubleheader.
With the win in Game One, the Rams improve to 8-13 (6-3 in 3A WSL) on the year. Roaring Fork hosts Basalt Saturday at Ron Patch Memorial Field, which is Senior Day for the Rams.
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