Prep baseball: Demons run away from Delta in nightcap
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Chase Nieslanik’s name was very fitting on Saturday. After all, it became obvious against Delta that when the Glenwood Springs High senior is on his game that he’s pretty hard to keep up with.
Nieslanik was on his game and then some during the second game of the Demons’ Class 4A Western Slope League doubleheader against the Panthers. He went the distance on the mound with 12 strikeouts, then capped his day by hitting a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift Glenwood to a 12-2 mercy rule victory at the Glenwood Springs Middle School baseball field.
“This is probably the best game that I’ve pitched in a long time,” Nieslanik said.
It’s east to say that was the best game the Demons (2-6 overall, 2-4 4A WSL) have played all season. It came on the heels of a 14-5 loss in the twin-bill opener where the Panthers blew the game open late with nine runs in the final two innings. Glenwood had an all-around performance from everyone on the team in the nightcap, getting 10 hits and a 3-for-4 hitting performance from Ian Scruton. Lucas Ray, Scruton and Keifer Bocker each scored three runs, and Shephen Romero had a three-run inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning that gave the Demons an 8-2 lead.
Nieslanik’s game was the biggest of them all, though. At the plate, he finished 2 for 3 with a two-run double, that game-winning slam and a walk. On the mound, he went all six innings, allowing one earned run, five hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in his 111-pitch performance.
His final hit of the game, however, wasn’t a huge surprise to him.
“I got up there and I thought, ‘Ya know, I think I’m due for one,’” he said with a smile. “I’ve hit three in my life, and they’ve all come off of curve balls. The curve ball the threw, well, it worked out pretty good for me.”
Glenwood went ahead in the bottom of the second on Brocker and Ray each scored on a Delta infield error. Then in the bottom of the second, Scruton drove in Brocker with an RBI single and Nieslanik followed with a two-run double to make it 5-1 Glenwood. Then after the Panthers pulled within three in the top of the fourth following a leadoff triple from Ethan Keller, Romero hit his inside-the-park homer on a line drive to center that rolled to the center field fence after it got by the diving center fielder.
“I just needed to get the bat on the ball because I’d been struggling before that,” said Romero, who went 0 for 3 in the first game of the day. “When he missed it, I just kept going and when I saw [coach Eric Nieslanik’s] arm waving around, I wasn’t stopping then.”
In the opener, Jacob Leary, Keller and Easton Byers each finished with three RBIs and Leary finished 3-for-3 batting with two runs scored. Derek Horn got the pitching win on the mound for the Panthers (7-5, 4-3), allowing three runs — two earned — and one walk with 10 strikeouts. Darrien Rodriguez allowed two earned runs in one inning of relief.
Throwing well for Glenwood in the opener was Romero, who walked four, struck out 11 and allowed seven hits. Three of the eight runs he allowed in 5 2/3 innings were earned, however, as Delta took advantage of six Glenwood errors.
Brocker and Bryce Gonzalez each finished 2-for-3 batting in the opener for Glenwood, which continues league play Tuesday night at Rifle. Delta continues league play Tuesday at Eagle Valley.
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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.