Demons rolling into playoffs
Tuesday was Andrew Blake’s last chance to pitch at his home ballpark, and the Glenwood Springs senior made it count.
Blake gave up just one run and five hits while striking out four, as Glenwood won its third straight 4A Western Slope League game, 7-1 over Delta, at the Glenwood Springs Middle School.
“It was my last home game and it was nice to finish out strong,” Blake said. “The guys behind me played stellar `D’ and everything kind of clicked.”
“I don’t even know how to describe that (performance),” Glenwood coach Mike Laster added.
“To do that against one of the top hitting teams in Class 4A – words can’t express it,” Laster said. “He definitely stepped up.”
While the contest was strictly a momentum builder heading into this weekend’s state tournament for Glenwood (7-5 WSL, 8-7 overall), Delta had much more riding on the game. A win would have given Delta (9-3, 13-6) a share of the regular-season title with Rifle.
Having the rival school’s players and fans in the stands was not lost on Blake.
“I saw Rifle in the stands cheering for us,” Blake said. “It’s kind of ironic that they were sitting on our side today.”
Blake faced just 10 batters in the first three innings, putting Delta down in order in the first and third innings. And, while it wasn’t a big cushion against an explosive team like the Panthers – who defeated the Demons 11-5 in their league opener – the offense gave the pitcher all the run support he would need early on.
Glenwood’s No. 2 hitter John Faris, who led the offense with a pair of doubles and a single, sparked three straight Demon hits off Delta ace Mike Abeyta in the first inning. Justin Jerome’s long sacrifice fly to left field brought Faris home for a 1-0 Glenwood lead at the end of one.
After a scoreless second inning, Brian Raymond plated a pair of Demon runs with a two-out single past a diving Delta first-baseman for a 3-1 advantage.
Mike Hoban tagged a solo homer over the center-field fence in the fourth inning, and two batters later Faris knocked an RBI double to roughly the same spot.
The double was the end of the line for Abeyta, who was replaced by Cully Howard.
Steve Moralez scored Delta’s only run of the game in the sixth inning. After Moralez’s two-out, standup double, Panther’s cleanup hitter Bill Helmsing was given a free pass to first. John Davis, who was 2-for-2 on the day, hit an RBI single.
The intentional walk to Helmsing was the only walk given up by Blake, and he snuffed out the potential rally by forcing Howard to ground out to first base.
“I don’t consider that walk (Blake’s), I consider it mine,” said Laster, who called the play.
Brock Milhorn put the contest out of reach in the bottom of the frame, drilling a two-RBI double down the third-base line.
“We proved today that we can beat any team we play,” said Laster, pointing out the Demons split with the WSL’s two top teams in Rifle and Delta.
Glenwood’s fourth-place league finish won’t give it an easy road in the state tournament, however. The seedings are expected to be released Wednesday evening and the Demons will likely have to play a top-four seed on the opponent’s home field in the district round Saturday.
“I’m happy with our 7-5 (league) record. We improved on last year’s record and that was one of our goals,” Laster said. “Now we’ll go down to the Front Range and hopefully make some noise.”
Glenwood Springs 7, Delta 1
Delta 000 001 0-1 5 1
Glenwood Springs 102 202 x-7 11 1
Mike Abeyta, Cully Howard (4) and Bill Helmsing. Andrew Blake and Jeremy Ureche.
DELTA – Curt Englehart 0-4, Blake Carlquist 1-3, Steve Moralez 1-3 (2B), Helmsing 0-2, John Davis 2-2, Abeyta 0-2, Howard 0-1, Dewey Fender 0-2, Rieher 0-1, Corey Ottinger 0-3, Brian Garcia 1-3.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Tom Suazo 0-3, John Faris 3-4 (2-2B), Andrew Blake 2-3, Jeremy Ureche 1-2, Justin Jerome 1-3, Brock Milhorn 1-4 (2B), Brian Raymond 1-3 (2B), Tiernan Conway 1-3, Mike Hoban 1-2 (HR).
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Area prep basketball teams begin their 2019-20 campaigns with tournament action both home and away this weekend.