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Rams face tough test in region opener vs. Jaguars

Roaring Fork has the unenviable task of cooling off one of the hottest teams in the state when it opens the Class 3A baseball Region 3 playoffs Saturday in Grand Junction.

By G. Sean Kelly



GSPI Sports Editor



Roaring Fork has the unenviable task of cooling off one of the hottest teams in the state when it opens the Class 3A baseball Region 3 playoffs Saturday in Grand Junction.

The No. 14-seed Rams (14-8) take on No. 3 D’Evelyn (18-4) Saturday at 10 a.m. at Canyon View Park in the Region 3 bracket. The winner advances to a 3 p.m. contest with a berth in the four-team Class 3A State Tournament at stake.

“We’re going to go and have fun and see what we can do,” Roaring Fork coach Eric Nieslanik said. “It’s a huge challenge and we don’t have much to lose.

“D’Evelyn is a pretty stiff opponent, for sure,” he added. “They played up all year long and basically won that league.”

D’Evelyn, which plays in the Class 4A Jeffco League during the regular season, has lost just once in the past 15 games and is coming off a 6-4 victory over Denver Christian, Class 3A’s No. 1-ranked squad. It was Denver Christian’s first loss of the season.

Jay Soneff paces the Jaguars offensively with .437 batting average and also boasts a 5-0 pitching record. Josh Schneider is the top pitcher for D’Evelyn with an ERA of 1.32 and a 5-1 mark.

“I know they have a very solid pitching staff,” Nieslanik said. “They are going to be solid one through nine – good sound ballplayers. We’re going to have to play our best baseball to be in the game with them.”

The Rams, however, always have a chance when ace Jake Boyle is on the mound. Boyle (8-2) has given up more than two runs only twice this season and enters the game with an ERA of 1.75. He is also near the top of Class 3A with 104 strikeouts.

“It’s going to be a good team, but Jake is hopefully up for the challenge,” Nieslanik said. “With Jake on the mound, we give him a few runs and play some solid defense behind him, absolutely (we’ve got a shot to win).”

Opener: see page A21

Dan Markoya leads Roaring Fork offensively with a .482 average, while Boyle and Jake Bowman are also over .400 with averages of .454 and .431, respectively.

The winner of the morning contest plays the winner of the game between No. 6 Bayfield (18-2) and No. 11 Olathe (17-4) at 3 p.m., also at Canyon View. Roaring Fork downed Olathe 18-6 last weekend in the semifinal round of the Western Slope League District Tournament.

Hotchkiss is the other regional qualifier out of the Western Slope. Hotchkiss (17-5) downed Roaring Fork 11-5 in the district title game and is seeded No. 7. The Bulldogs face No. 10 Brush (14-9) at 12:30 in Region 4 held in Pueblo.

The winner of each regional tournament advances to the four-team Class 3A State Tournament to be held next Friday and Saturday at Runyon Field in Pueblo.The winner of each regional tournament advances to the four-team Class 3A State Tournament to be held next Friday and Saturday at Runyon Field in Pueblo.


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