Glenwood Springs, Rifle baseball heads to 4A regional playoffs
Coming off of one of the best seasons in program history in the 2010s, the Glenwood Springs Demons boys baseball team heads to the regional baseball playoffs for the second year in a row under veteran head coach Eric Nieslanik.
The Demons finished the regular season 14-9 overall, including a 9-3 mark in the 4A Western Slope League, good for second behind undefeated Palisade. Glenwood defeated Eagle Valley, which was ranked in the top six in the state throughout the season, twice, including a walk-off home run May 13 at home by senior Dylan Lee.
Entering the regional playoffs, Glenwood will once again face off with the Golden Demons. Last season, Glenwood fell to Golden 12-1 in the regional playoffs. Golden finished the regular season with a 16-6 record, including a 10-2 mark in the 4A JeffCo League, good for second in the league behind Wheat Ridge.
During the regular season, Glenwood was led offensively by junior Sam Fitzwilliams, who hit a team-high .410 on the year. The junior also drove in 17 runs. Seniors Tyler Dollahan and Kai Kanzer led the Demons in home runs with five and three, respectively, while seniors Chano Gonzalez and Lee led the team in RBIs with 21 each. Dollahan scored a team-high 22 runs. Junior Cole Houston led the team in walks with 16, while Gonzalez led the Demons in steals with 14.
On the mound for Glenwood in 2019, Gonzalez was the top arm for the Demons, pitching 39.1 innings, striking out 60, walking 37, and allowing 24 earned runs, finishing with a 1-2 record on the year and a 4.27 ERA.
Golden, under head coach Jackie McBroom, is lead by junior Ben McLaughlin, who hit .471 with six home runs and 31 RBIs on the year. McLaughlin was also the ace for the Demons, working 53.1 innings on the year, striking out 77 while going 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA.
The battle of the Demons commences at 12:30 p.m. on Friday at Skyview High School in Thornton.
Joining Glenwood in Thornton is the Rifle Bears baseball team under veteran head coach Troy Phillips. The Bears will take on the host Skyview Wolverines in the first round of the regional playoffs.
Rifle finished the regular season with a 14-8 record, including a 6-6 mark in the 4A Western Slope League. The 6-6 mark was good for fourth in the league standings. Last season, Rifle missed the playoffs, so this is a return trip to the postseason for the Bears after a one-year hiatus.
Offensively in 2019, Rifle was led by junior Derek Wagler, who hit .554 with 10 doubles, a school-record nine triples, two home runs and 36 RBIs in 22 games. Senior Eddie Medina formed a strong 1-2 punch with Wagler, hitting .414 with five doubles, one triple, and one home run while driving in 32 runs on the year.
Senior Randy Starks led the Bears in walks with 27, while junior Levi Warfel led Rifle with 23 stolen bases under Phillips.
On the mound for Rifle, Starks and Medina were the workhorses for the Bears as Starks led Rifle with 46.2 innings pitched, while Medina worked 44 innings. Starks struck out 43 and allowed 27 earned runs, while Medina struck out 35 and allowed 32 earned runs. Starks went 5-4 on the year with a 4.05 ERA, while Medina went 5-1 with a 5.09 ERA.
Skyview finished the regular season 18-2, including a 14-0 mark in the 4A/3A Colorado 7 League, winning the league by two games over Conifer.
Under head coach LB Musch, senior Corey Musch and junior Jonny Gomez led the Wolverines offensively with a .526 batting average. Musch drove in a team-high 24 runs, while senior Omar Rascon tied Musch with 24 RBIs, hitting .435.
On the mound, junior Braulio Angel led the Wolverines with a 5-1 record on the year with a 3.48 ERA, working 56.1 innings while striking out 69 and allowing 28 earned runs.
The Bears and Wolverines square off on Friday at 10 a.m. Should Rifle and Glenwood Springs win on Friday, they’d meet in the regional bracket championship for the right to head to the Great Eight.
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It was a statement game featuring the two best boys basketball teams in the 4A Western Slope League on Saturday afternoon at the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium in Glenwood Springs. And, just like in the old western shootouts, it was the Glenwood Demons who had spoken the loudest when all the dust had settled with a key 58-44 win over the Steamboat Springs Sailors.