Defensive struggles trip up Rams in doubleheader sweep
Things started off so well for the Roaring Fork Rams baseball team Thursday afternoon in game one of a doubleheader at Ron Patch Memorial Field in Carbondale, but as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, the wheels came off quickly for the Rams, as the visiting Steamboat Springs Sailors scored six runs each in the fourth and fifth innings to pull away for a 15-2 win in game one, before battling back in game two to take a 7-6 win, sweeping the doubleheader matchup against the Rams.
Roaring Fork junior starting pitcher Ralph Good fought through a clean first inning of work in game one, escaping a bases loaded jam by recording a swinging strikeout.
Riding the wave of momentum thanks to Good escaping the jam in the top of the first, Roaring Fork raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as senior Drew Broadhurst and junior Dawson Kuhl worked two-out walks. The duo then pulled off the double steal, moving up to second and third before scoring on a two-run single to left from sophomore Frankie Harrington, staking the Rams out to a 2-0 lead.
That would be the end of the good vibes in game one for the Rams, as Steamboat Springs took advantage of some sloppy defense by Roaring Fork to tie the game quickly in the top of the second inning.
Following a hit by pitch by Good on sophomore George Cook, the Sailors recorded two infield singles and took advantage of a Roaring Fork error to tie the game at 2-2.
The Rams went down in order in the bottom of the second, allowing the Sailors to get back to the plate quickly, pushing across another run to take a 3-2 lead, as sophomore Ethan Johnson led off the top of the third inning with a single. An error and a wild pitch allowed Johnson to score for the Sailors, before Steamboat loaded the bases for the second time in three innings. But much as in the first inning, Good escaped the jam once again with a strikeout, freezing Steamboat’s Jack Boyle for a called third strike.
Trailing 3-2, the Rams tried to wake up the bats in the bottom of the third inning, but for the second straight trip to the plate, Roaring Fork went down in order.
Finding a rhythm offensively, the Sailors poured it on in the top of the fourth, as Colter Gansmann and Theodore Hansen led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Good then hit Tanner Ripley with a pitch to load the bases, leading to an RBI single to left from Johnson, pushing Steamboat’s lead to 4-2.
After Johnson drove in Gansmann, freshman Alan Duty drove in Hansen and Ripley with a two-run single to right, making it a 6-2 game.
The hits kept coming for the Sailors, as freshman Austin Ibarra drove in Johnson, before an error by the Rams allowed Duty to score, making it an 8-2 game, chasing Good from the mound for the Rams.
Freshman Graham Pietsch relieved Good and promptly shut down the Steamboat attack, sending the Rams into the dugout trailing 9-2 at home.
Roaring Fork made some noise in the bottom of the inning, as Harrington recorded his second hit of the game, this one a bloop single to center, before sophomore Eli Nickamin reached on an error by Steamboat, giving the Rams runners on first and second with no outs. That was all the noise the Rams made in the inning though, as a strikeout, fielder’s choice and a pop-out ended the Roaring Fork threat.
Trailing by seven runs, the Rams attempted to keep the game going, but three errors and four hits in the top of the fifth from the Sailors made it a 15-2 game, as Hansen capped off the game with a ringing double to left.
“In practice, we look phenomenal defensively,” Roaring Fork Head Coach Marty Madsen said. “But once we get into a game, it’s almost like the guys are afraid of screwing up. We talked about baseball being a game of screwing up; that’s all you do. It’s a game of failure, but you need to keep playing. We’re young, and with those younger kids, they carry those mistakes with them.
“We’re kind of in the same position we were in last year. We’re not making enough plays defensively, which is costing us.”
In game two, Broadhurst came out and threw a terrific five innings for the Rams, allowing one unearned run on just one hit, striking out six hitters on the day. But much like game one, the Roaring Fork defense fell apart late, as the Sailors scored two runs in the sixth and four runs in the seventh off of three total errors by the Rams, leading to the doubleheaders sweep.
Nickamin went 3-for-4 with five RBIs in the second game, while Crisp, Good and Kuhl recorded two hits each.
Roaring Fork (2-5) will take on Basalt Saturday at 11 a.m. in Basalt.