Masters of the mound

Phil Sandoval

Jason Enewold and Jake Boyle attend schools at opposite ends of the area, but they mirror one another when it comes to baseball.

They are their school’s ace pitchers at Rifle and Roaring Fork High Schools, and both are among Colorado’s top hurlers in their respective classifications.

It figure both pitchers would have identical 7-2 records as well.

And a common goal Enewold and Boyle share is they both hope to boost their respective teams deep into the state playoffs.

Enewold, a three-year starter at Rifle, will be on the mound for Saturday’s opening game of the 4A district playoffs in Pueblo against Colorado Springs Widefield at 12:30 p.m.

Boyle has the same duties for Roaring Fork. On Friday, the junior will be the starter against Eagle Valley in Delta in the semifinal round of the 3A Western Slope League district tourney. The game starts at 4 p.m.

When it comes to advancing to the next round, it appears that Rifle has the tougher task.

The 15-4 Bears, repeat winners of the 4A Western Slope League regular-season pennant, must win two games on Saturday to advance.

Rifle is ranked ninth in the 32-team tournament. The Bears’ first-round opponent, Widefield (11-7), is the No. 24 seed. The winner faces either No. 8 Pueblo County or No. 25 Aurora Hinkley later in the day.

The Bear-Widefield game is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m., with the district championship game at 3 p.m.

The champions from each of eight districts advance to next week’s 4A State Tournament.

Roaring Fork (13-6) finished fourth in the 3A WSL and takes on No. 1 Eagle Valley on Friday.

A win assures the Rams of a spot in the 3A state tournament. If Roaring Fork losses to the Devils, they play the loser of the other semifinal for third place and the final state playoff spot.

Both Enewold and Boyle played key roles in their teams’ success this year.

Enewold, according to statistics in the Rocky Mountain News, is the strikeout king in 4A with 89 Ks in 11 appearances. Boyle is among the strikeout leaders in 3A with 84.

Both pitchers have gotten those strikeouts in bunches this season.

Against Basalt, Boyle had an 18-strikeout masterpiece, in which he struck out 14 Longhorns in a row. The effort broke the 20-year-old former school record of 14 K’s in one game, held jointly by Rick Sorenson and Norman Sproles.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Roaring Fork coach Eric Nieslanik of Boyle’s gem.

In Roaring Fork’s season-opener Boyle manufactured a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened no-hitter against Aspen.

Enewold also had a highlight-reel game when he had 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning affair against Moffat County.

“I didn’t know until after the game I had 20 strikeouts, when (Coach Troy) Phillips told me,” said Enewold. “I knew I had quite a few, but I didn’t know I had that many.”

Phillips said Enewold’s work ethic has led to success.

“He works out in the weight room and he listens to what we taught about throwing long toss to strengthen his arm,” Phillips said.

Enewold, who has drawn interest from a number of small colleges this season, said the most important statistic to him is winning.

“I don’t pay much attention to statistics. The only thing I care about statistic-wise is the wins. As long as we win, I’m fine,” he said.

“When my team knows I’m on the mound, they expect to win and I expect to win.”

Roaring Fork feels the same about Boyle.

“Any time we have Jake on the mound we’ve got a chance of winning,” Nieslanik said. “When he’s on, he rallies the team.”

Boyle said the key to winning Friday’s game against Eagle Valley is maintaining control, not throwing too hard and making the plays.

“If we play like we did (Tuesday),” he said after Monday’s 11-1 victory over Gunnison, “we’ll be OK.”

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