Coal Ridge baseball tops Glenwood as offense stays hot
The Glenwood Springs Demons came into Thursdays nonconference game on a hot streak, winning their last six games. Someone forgot to tell the Coal Ridge Titans, as the Titans were able to slow down the Demon hitters just enough to record a 9-6 victory in New Castle.
Both teams started quickly, with Glenwood drawing first blood, as leadoff hitter Tyler Boyd reached via walk. Junior Dylan Lee wasted no time, taking the first offering from Coal Ridge starter senior Jake Whitaker deep for the two-run home run. After giving up a single to Sebastian Gonzalez, Whitaker was able to get out of the inning, getting the next three hitters to fly out, ending the top of the first.
The Titans methodically chipped away at Glenwood starter Brady Steen, after starting with a single from Jared Lund. Lund quickly moved into scoring position, taking second on a sacrifice bunt from Lane Stecklein, before scrambling to third on a wild pitch from Steen. Jared Whitaker then drove in Lund with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 2-1 game. Ryan Kotz drew a walk and stole second, before a single from Jake Whitaker drove in Kotz to knot the game at 2-2.
The score remained tied after second inning with both the Demons and Titans plating two runs each to push the score to 4-4. Glenwood plated their two runs on just one hit, while Coal Ridge’s bats started to warm up with three hits.
Coal Ridge coach Dan Larsen handed the pitching duties over to Stecklein to start the third inning. Stecklein struck out Sam Fitzwilliams before walking Cole Houston for the first base runner of the inning. After a flyout to center by Glenwood’s Davis Deaton, Kai Kanzer moved Houston into scoring position with a single to shallow left field, but Stecklein got Steen to line out, ending the Glenwood threat.
Jake Whitaker started off the third inning by getting hit by pitch, but Steen sat down the sixth and seventh batters, Sean Mooney and Kevin Cordasco, and had the Titans on the ropes with two outs and a man on first. After walking Oscar Salazar, Steen gave up a two-run triple to Carson Miller, giving Coal Ridge its first lead of the game. The Titans plated two more runs on a double from Lund and a single from Stecklein before Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik pulled Steen and replaced him with Fitzwilliams, who ended the inning by getting Jared Whitaker to pop out.
“These guys have really been working hard on hitting and timely hitting, pounding the batting cage. It’s starting to come around,” Larsen said, regarding his team’s bats coming to life in the third inning. The Titans scored four runs to take a 8-4 lead on the Demons.
Glenwood mounted a rally after Boyd was caught stealing second and Coal Ridge’s Stecklein struck out Dylan Lee to start the fourth. The two-out rally was highlighted by a two-run double from Fitzwilliams to narrow the deficit to 8-6, but Kanzer struck out looking to end the inning.
Fitzwilliams kept the Demons within striking distance, even after giving up a single, and hitting two batters, but he was able to card three strikeouts to strand three Coal Ridge baserunners.
Larsen then went to one of his best pitchers, sending in right-hander Jared Whitaker to the mound in the fifth inning. Whitaker faced five batters in the inning, hitting the first batter he saw, before settling down and recording two strikeouts and a fly out to left field.
The Titans added some breathing room to their lead with a run in the fifth to give them a 9-6 advantage going into the last two innings.
Whitaker continued the hot pitching in the sixth, getting Houston to hit into a 5-4-3 double play, before ending the inning with a grounder to first by Davis Deaton. Glenwood then turned around and gave the ball Deaton in the bottom of the sixth. The senior made quick work, striking out the side and giving the Demons life in the final inning.
The Demons’ bats were no match for Whitaker as he finished out his three-inning appearance by striking out Kanzer to open the inning, and fielding a comebacker to the mound for the second out. Boyd gave the Demons some hope with a single, before Whitaker then closed the door by striking out Dylan Lacey to end the game.
“They’re a scrappy team. We were both trying to manage our pitching. They got some base runners on and good key hits. We hit some good balls and they made some great plays on us,” Nieslanik said.
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After losing the 3A Western Slope League race in a tough, five-set loss to Basalt on April 15, the Coal Ridge High volleyball team finds its playoff fate partly out of its own hands.