Grand Valley headed to playoffs |

Grand Valley headed to playoffs

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

PARACHUTE – The playoff math was simple enough. Split a doubleheader with Rangely on Saturday and Grand Valley had its ticket to the district playoffs punched.The Cardinals got the job done, but not without a little drama. Rangely, which needed a sweep to sneak past the Cards and into districts, took the morning opener 10-4 to keep its season alive before Grand Valley roared back for a 9-5 win in the nightcap behind the tired arm of Tyler Jensen and timely hitting and defense.

“I just told them not to give up,” Cardinals coach Jeff Bradley said of the break between games. “T.J. came through and battled hard even. We were a little sluggish but we fought through it.”Ben Evers knocked bases-loaded, two-run singles in both the first and second innings to help build a big Grand Valley lead in the do-or-die second game.The Cardinals exploded for five runs in that second inning, going up 7-1 in the process.Rangely nibbled away at its deficit – slicing the Cardinal lead to as little as 7-5 – but couldn’t push past the host Cardinals, who move on to district play Friday at Canyon View against either Dolores or Nucla.

Jensen, who admitted he wasn’t dealing his best stuff, managed a complete-game victory in the second game, getting late help from center fielder Sam McKinley, who in the sixth inning drifted back on a sky-high pop fly and somehow made a falling grab near the fence.”Defense was the key,” said Jensen. “That diving catch Sam made was amazing. That really brought new life to me.”Jensen also collected two hits on the day. Danny Manzanares added a couple of hits, including a booming double in the bottom of the sixth inning. He later came around to score on an error for a key insurance run.

Pride was on the line in this one, Jensen stressed.”Everybody’s always thinking that baseball is the weakest guys’ sport at the school,” he explained. “We had something to prove to the school and to the community by making the playoffs.”The Cardinals’ 5-3 Class 2A District 2 record was good for second place behind Paonia. With a sweep, Rangely (3-5) would have been the team moving on to the district playoffs.”We needed it,” Rangely coach Kurt Douglas said. “(Our kids) came back and if we catch a couple of balls, or the balls don’t bounce out of our glove, or we get a key hit with runners on, it’s a different game.”

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