Hurler manages anger well for Demons
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Chase Nieslanik brought his A-game — and his long memory — to the ballfield for the Glenwood Springs High School baseball team on Saturday.
With that memory came some apparent anger the Glenwood junior had been building up since the last time the Demons played against the Steamboat Springs Sailors. He wound up being productive with it, scattering five hits in a complete-game shutout to help Glenwood win the first game of their Class 4A Western Slope League doubleheader, 1-0, on Saturday.
“We had gotten creamed by them the last time that we played each other,” said Nieslanik, referring to the Sailors’ 14-0 victory over Glenwood on March 14. “I really wanted to come out here and perform well because I had a lot of anger in me about that loss. I really wanted us to win that [first] game, and it felt really good to beat them.”
The Sailors, who recovered and held on for an 8-6 win in the nightcap, got a more-than stellar pitching performance from Matt Regan in the opener. Regan went the distance, too, allowing six hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts. But one thing he did not allow was an earned run, as the run Quinn Kimminau scored off a fifth-inning single from Chris Sarabia was unearned.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in a high school game like that,” ninth-year Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik said.
Chase Nieslanik, meanwhile, allowed just one walk and five hits with 10 strikeouts. Six Steamboat batters were able to get into scoring position against the Demons, but none of them advanced past second base.
Glenwood’s victory in the opener snapped a four-game losing streak to the Sailors dating back to the 2012 season.
“There were a lot of routine plays that we should have made, but didn’t,” said Steamboat coach Rusty McRight, whose team fell to 8-7 overall and 3-7 in 4A WSL play.
Meanwhile, Glenwood (7-5 overall, 4-3 league) is contending for one of the WSL’s three automatic berths in the Class 4A state playoffs just a year after a 5-14 campaign a season ago. The Demons, however, have a stretch of seven league games in the next two weeks — a stretch that includes seventh-ranked Delta on Thursday and a home doubleheader against Eagle Valley on Saturday.
“Our goal at the beginning to the season was to compete,” coach Nieslanik said. “Now we need to take the next step.”
It was the Sailors, however, who put pressure on the Demons to compete early in the second game.
Billy Clark opened the scoring by launching a solo home run over the 300-foot sign in right field with one out in the first inning, giving the Sailors a 1-0 lead. The Demons responded in the bottom half of the inning, though, with an RBI single from Sarabia and a sacrifice fly from Sam Carmer putting Glenwood up 2-1. A two-run, ground-rule double from Storm Veilleux in the top of the third, however, gave the Sailors the lead for good at 5-2.
McRight took out starting pitcher Jessie Pugh after three innings and put Clark on the mound, but the Steamboat junior walked the first three Glenwood batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth inning. Clark, however, induced an RBI groundout to Steve Romero and struck out Isaac Law and Luke Ray to end the threat.
“That says a lot for him to come back like that,” McRight said.
Glenwood didn’t quit, though, and loaded the bases again in the top of the sixth to chase Clark. Ryan Jeep relieved with one out in the inning and gave up an RBI groundout to Chase Nieslanik and an RBI single to Carmer, but he struck out Law two batters later to end the inning with the Sailors up, 8-6.
“It’s very frustrating because we had a lot of chances today,” coach Nieslanik said. “We need to be a lot more consistent on offense.”
The Demons left 14 runners on base in the nightcap.
The Sailors are off until April 30 when they continue league play at home against Summit.
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The Rifle High School baseball team is set to host a regional round as the No. 2 seed overall in the Class 4A State Baseball playoffs this weekend.