Rams fall to Panthers 8-1 in season opener
Facing live pitching for the first time in a meaningful game, the Roaring Fork Rams baseball team had a tough time getting consistent offense going against the visiting Delta Panthers in an 8-1 season-opening loss Friday at Ron Patch Field in Carbondale.
“The teams we’ve had in the past we’ve beaten ourselves and made mistakes,” Roaring Fork Head Coach Marty Madsen said. “We played probably the top team in the league today and they beat us; we didn’t beat ourselves. When you lose to a good club like that and they beat you, you can’t really get frustrated with yourself. You know, even losing 8-1, I’m not upset with how our boys played. We have a lot to work on at the plate, but I’m definitely pleased with what I saw today.”
The Rams would fall behind 2-0 early after the top half of the first inning as an RBI single from Delta’s Tristan Brown and an error by Roaring Fork gave the Panthers the early two-run lead. But from there, Roaring Fork would hang tough with the defending 4A Western Slope League champion Panthers, who made the move down to the 3A WSL this season.
Following the two-run top of the first for Delta, Roaring Fork junior pitcher Drew Broadhurst would keep the Panthers off the board until the top of the fourth inning when the junior would walk Delta junior Jasper Carmichael to lead off the inning. Broadhurst would settle down after the walk, though, getting junior Josh Reeder to fly out to right field. But senior catcher Darrien Rodriguez would then hit a screamer to shortstop where the Rams would boot the ground ball, putting runners on first and third with one out in the inning.
Broadhurst would do it himself with the next batter, getting Delta’s Christan Hall to look at a called third strike on the outside corner, setting up a pivotal at-bat with Delta senior Damon Jensen.
Against Jensen, Broadhurst fell behind 2-0 before Jensen connected with the next pitch, sending a line-drive single into right field, where Roaring Fork junior Axel Palomera came up firing to Broadhurst as the cutoff man. From there, Broadhurst was able to catch Jensen way off of first base, getting the ball quickly to senior first baseman Hayden Bernot to end the inning with the Panthers taking a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Delta would set down the Rams in order in the bottom of the fourth inning before adding another run in the top of the fifth inning as senior Blake Reiher reached second on an E5 by the Rams before then tagging up and heading to third on a deep flyout to center field by Ethan Keller.
With Reiher on third and just one out, Broadhurst needed to work out of the jam, but a wild pitch three pitches later would let Reiher race home to make it 4-0.
Delta would then draw a walk and a hit by pitch to put two runners on with just one out, but Broadhurst would fan Carmichael for the second out of the inning before getting Reeder to fly out to senior center fielder Aldo Pinela to end the inning.
Trailing 4-0, the Rams would attempt to put together a rally in the bottom of the fifth as they caught some two-out momentum, starting with Pinela, who reached first on an E6 by Delta before heading to second on a passed ball.
With Pinela at second and nobody out, junior catcher Ralph Good would head to first on a walk before Broadhurst would rip a single into shallow right field, loading the bases with two outs.
Looking to keep the momentum going, junior shortstop Dawson Kuhl would stride to the plate looking to get the Rams on the board, but the junior would fight off an inside pitch, grounding out to third to end the Roaring Fork threat.
After grounding out to end the bottom of the fifth, Kuhl would switch places with Broadhurst, taking the ball on the mound for the top of the sixth inning. While on the mound, Kuhl would run into a bases-loaded situation, walking in two runs to extend Delta’s lead to 6-0 before getting Carmichael to fly out to Palomera in right to end the inning.
The Rams would get another rally going in the bottom of the sixth as sophomore Kyle Baird and senior Jake Kelley would reach base to put runners on first and second with two outs, but Brown would make a tremendous diving grab on a sinking liner to right from Palomera to end the Roaring Fork threat once again.
Delta would add two runs in the top of the seventh off of junior Ronnie Petetan to make it 8-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, where the Rams would add a run in their final at-bat of the game.
Pinela would start the bottom of the seventh off by wearing an inside fastball off of his backside to reach first base. The senior speedster would head to second on a passed ball before advancing to third on Good’s 5-3 ground out. Sitting just 90 feet from home plate, Pinela would score a few moments later on Broadhurst’s 4-3 ground out, making it 8-1 Delta.
From there, Kuhl would draw a walk before Delta’s Justin Violett would end the threat by fanning the next Ram hitter, giving the Panthers their first win of the season.
In the loss, the Rams would muster just two hits against Delta pitching, which is arguably the best team that they’ll face all season in the 3A WSL.
“Like I’ve said, I think that’s the best team we’ll see all season and it’s just the first game of the year,” Madsen said. “To be able to hang with them for seven innings and battle with them all game long was pretty awesome. I think that’s something very positive to build off of.”
The Rams will look to get into the win column at 11 a.m. today against the Battle Mountain Huskies.
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