Glenwood Geckos bring college-level baseball to Garfield County
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Mark Goodman couldn’t even begin to express the kind of excitement his college-level summer baseball team has playing in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“These guys love it here,” said Goodman, the coach of the Glenwood Springs Geckos said on Friday. “They love the area and … we’ve been very fortunate to have some great host families who have put our guys up.”
Those guys — 18 of them in all — have come from all over the country to play for the team in the newly formed Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League. It’s a six-team, wood-bat league in its first year of existence that fields teams from Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, Gypsum, Vail, Frisco and, of course, Glenwood.
The Glenwood team, however, has already switched its home games from Glenwood Springs Middle School to Ron Patch Memorial Field in Carbondale. The switch came, Goodman said, after the first games the Geckos played over in West Glenwood proved the field was a launching pad for college-level players.
The team is 2-8 through its first 10 games, which Goodman said is the result of primarily having only position players — not pitchers — on his roster. He’s hoping that will change in the next week or so, however, when he expects to have a few more pitching arms on the team.
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And with the position players he does have, Goodman — the head baseball coach at Thunderbird High School in Phoenix — said his team will be aggressive on the basepaths and at the plate.
“We could win this league is we get some pitching,” said the 32-year-old Goodman, who is assisted by 26-year-old Camron Jimenez. “We have speed, we have depth, and we can hit. As as far as my coaching philosophy goes, I want to run. If they get to first base, they need to get to second base as soon as possible.”
The Geckos’ roster not only includes players from one side of the continental United States to the other, but local players as well. Among them is Roaring Fork High graduate Tanner Nieslanik, an outfielder who currently plays baseball at Colorado Northwest Community College in Rangely and was a first-team, all-3A Western Slope League player for the Rams during his senior season in 2014. Also on the roster is former Rifle High pitcher Danny Bartels, a first-team all-4A WSL player during his senior year with the Bears in 2013 who is at Feather River Community College in California.
Four players — infielders Xavier Trujillo and Bryce Stanage, Caden Lerbakken, Zach Reemer, and catcher Evan McFarland — play at Gateway Community College in Arizona. Also among the players on the roster are Jordan Kelly and Jason Galeano of Iowa Central Community College, infielder/pitcher Robert Silvestre from Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey, and infielder/catcher Chris Perez of Southeastern Iowa Community College.
The six-team league has a 36-game season, with doubleheaders scheduled each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A double-elimination playoff tournament, which is seeded based on team’s finish in the league standings, will take place in the middle of July.
The Geckos continue play at noon today with a doubleheader against the Eagle Valley Eagles in Gypsum.
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In softball, the Rifle Bears were down a pitcher in a game head coach Troy Philips said “would probably decide the league,” falling to the Palisade Bulldogs on Tuesday