Rams come up short in upset bid
GRAND JUNCTION – A suicide bunt gone bad killed a late-game rally as Roaring Fork fell 2-0 to No. 5-ranked Machebeuf in the first round of the Class 3A regional baseball tournament Saturday.Devon Tenorio – whose 1.27 ERA going into the game was 3A’s third-best – had blanked the No. 12-seeded Rams through the first five innings, but Roaring Fork’s bats showed life in the sixth inning. Jake Bowman stroked a double over the head of Machebeuf’s Adam Gonzales in left field to start the frame. “I was just looking to get a hit, and the guy threw it right over, so I just hit it,” Bowman said of his double.Jake Kinney followed with a single he hit so hard it broke his aluminum bat in half. With runners at the corners, Kyle Raaflaub came to the plate. Ram head coach Steve Kinney called for a suicide bunt, and with Bowman heading home, Raaflaub popped a bunt up. Tenorio made a diving catch just to the right of the mound, robbing Raaflaub and doubling up Bowman who had already crossed the plate.”We just needed a little bit of luck,” coach Kinney said. “These guys really played a great baseball game. I was really proud of the way they played. This is an incredible group of guys. ” But luck wasn’t on the Rams’ side, and the once-promising rally would now have to be a two-out rally. Skyler McAllister kept Roaring Fork’s hopes alive, smacking a double down the right-field line and advancing Kinney to third. Machebeuf then brought in pitcher Nick Cafasso, who had a 1.43 ERA and Class 3A-leading 92 strikeouts coming into the game, to replace Tenorio, who left the game allowing only three hits and striking out seven. Cafasso first faced Tyler Hunt, who roped a shot to center field, but Tenorio, now playing center field, made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning and keep the Rams off the scoreboard.A.J. Joiner hit a single in the top of the seventh with two outs as the Rams made one last attempt to score, but Parker Nieslanik grounded to second to finish the game.”I am definitely satisfied in how we played,” Bowman said. “Of course you’re disappointed, but we came in here as underdogs, and we played like studs.”As impressive as Tenorio’s and Cafasso’s performances were from the mound, Raaflaub was just as good for the Rams. After walking one batter and hitting another – both of whom came around to score – in the first inning, Raaflaub held the Buffaloes to two hits and consecutively retired the last 11 batters he faced. “Kyle did a great job on the mound,” coach Kinney said. “He had a few problems in the first inning. Then after that he settled down real nicely.”The Rams end their season, one with only 12 players, five of whom missed preseason training because of a state-runner-up performance with Roaring Fork’s basketball team, with a 10-11 overall record.”It was a great season. We picked up the pace and came back. It was awesome,” Jake Kinney said. “At the start of the season we were horrible, and then we came back to have a great season.”For seniors Bowman, Nieslanik, McAllister (who made a great catch in center field in the third inning), Caley Reynolds and Joiner (who reached base on all four at bats against the Buffs), it was the last game in their four-year careers with Roaring Fork.”It been an awesome ride,” said Bowman. “It’s been really fun. It’s sad to go, though.”
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