Prep baseball: Rifle’s Chaney cools Demons’ bats
RIFLE — Takoda Chaney was close to speechless following Rifle High School’s baseball game against archrival Glenwood Springs on Tuesday night. His coach, on the other hand, figured the sophomore’s performance on the mound spoke volumes enough.
Chaney threw a complete-game two-hitter against the Demons and picked three Glenwood baserunners off, helping the lone run the Bears scored hold up during their 1-0 Class 4A Western Slope League victory over the Demons at Cooper Field.
“The big thing with me is there’s three guys on this team who have worked really, really hard during the offseason to get better in preparing for this season, and he’s one of them,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “He’s put a lot of effort into getting better all the way around, from the velocity on his pitches to his running speed. It’s great to see him have this kind of success.”
All total, Chaney finished with eight strikeouts in seven innings, allowing no runs, two walks, two hits and a hit batsman. The big thing for the sidearmed lefthander for Rifle, however, is that he picked off three of Glenwood’s five baserunners to help the Bears (6-4, 3-4 league play) bounce back from its split at Battle Mountain this past Saturday.
Chaney, meanwhile, had this performance against a Glenwood team that had just earned a mercy rule, 12-2 victory against Delta in Glenwood this past Saturday. Plus, it came during a brilliant performance on the mound by Glenwood’s Luke Ray. He struck out five, walked two and pitched five scoreless innings after allowing the game’s only run in the first inning.
It left the Demons lamenting the opportunities they felt they missed to tie the game.
“We’ve got some great kids and some great skill, and we’re doing some great things sometimes,” Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik said. “We haven’t found a way to get it done. We’re getting a heck off a lot better, and now we just need to keep competing, keep scratching and keep fighting.”
Rifle broke through in the bottom of the first inning when Ty Leyba had a leadoff single and then stole second and third base after Ray struck out Wyatt Carter for Rifle’s first out. Layton Stutsman followed with a single to left field to drive in Leyba for the game’s only run.
Meanwhile, Chaney didn’t allow Glenwood’s first hit until Ray got on base with an excuse-me-swing infield single that died in the Cooper Field infield. That didn’t faze him at all, though, as he retired Stephen Romero, Chase Nieslanik and Tristan Harris in order to end the threat.
Glenwood’s Steve Montes led off the top of the fifth with a single, but Chaney picked him off while facing Quinn Kimmineau. And in the seventh inning after Romero drew a leadoff walk, Chaney struck out five-hole hitter Nieslanik and, just like he did with Montes, picked off Romero for the second out before striking out Harris to end it.
“I wasn’t feeling tired,” Chaney said. “I just tried to stay confident through the whole game.”
Phillips said that Chaney had worked on his pickoff move quite a bit during the Bears’ practice on Monday.
“You could definitely see the results of that today,” Phillips said.
Stutsman finished 2-for-3 batting with the game’s lone RBI and Leyba also went 2 for 3 with two of Rifle’s five stolen bases.
Glenwood plays again on Thursday when the Demons host a nonleague game against Roaring Fork. Rifle will play a nonleague game on Friday at Green Mountain, the top-ranked team in the most recent Class 4A baseball poll. That game was rescheduled from a postponement in early March.
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