Rams slide past Longhorns in extra innings | PostIndependent.com

Rams slide past Longhorns in extra innings

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Alex Rascon knew revenge would be on the minds of Basalt’s baseball players.

After all, Rascon and Roaring Fork hung a pride-bruising 18-0 defeat on the Longhorns back on March 24.

“Anybody would be angry about that,” Rascon said. “Our coach was preaching all week they’d come hard after us.”

Turns out coach was right.

Scrapping back from a 5-1 first-inning deficit, the Longhorns sent Tuesday’s rematch in Carbondale into extra innings. This go-around, it took an Oscar Beltran RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Rams to score a 7-6 walk-off win.

“They dumped on us last time,” Basalt coach Bud Hickman recalled. “That first game is not how we’re used to playing.”

With Scott Hoffman’s home run, two doubles and four RBIs pacing the Longhorn offense, Basalt fell more in line with Hickman’s expectations on Tuesday.

And that came as no surprise to Beltran, who ended the game by punching a line drive to right field that bounced off the glove of a diving Andy Delaney.

“We assumed after the previous game that they’d be ready for us,” he said.

The Longhorns didn’t appear all that ready early on, though, as the opportunistic Rams plated five first-inning runs on two hits, two walks and three errors.

Dana Holley reached on an error to lead off the game and then stole second before scoring on a Clay Gross line drive single. Rascon followed with a walk and cleanup hitter ” yes, cleanup hitter ” Jake Strack-Loertscher caught the Basalt defense off guard with a bunt single to load the bases.

Two batters later, Trent Reeds drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in a run, giving way to the day’s most bizarre play.

The next batter, Shea Nieslanik, smacked a seemingly routine grounder to first, but Gus Berg’s throw home skipped under the glove of catcher Blake Scherer, allowing both Rascon and Strack-Loertscher to score.

With Reeds breaking for third base, Scherer rifled a late throw to third baseman Cory Ostrander. Nieslanik took off for second on the play, drawing a throw from Ostrander that found its way into the outfield. Reeds scored and Nieslanik advanced to third, giving the Rams a 5-1 lead.

Roaring Fork starting pitcher Clay Gross struck out the side in the top of the second and the Rams looked as though they were on their way to another easy win.

Not so fast.

Hoffman gave the ‘Horns hope in the top of the third, belting a laser over the left-field fence to bring home a pair of runs.

Rascon hit an RBI triple in the fourth to make it 6-3 before Hoffman and teammate Tanner Banc rose to the occasion in the fifth.

Hoffman bounced a ground-rule double over the right-field fence to drive in a run and, one at-bat later, Banc singled home the game-tying runs.

Hoffman, who went on to line a double off the left-field fence in the seventh, went 4-for-4 on the afternoon.

“I haven’t had a day like that at the plate in forever,” he said. “I was just seeing the ball well.”

Unfortunately for Hoffman and the Longhorns, the slugger’s career day didn’t translate into a victory.

After a diving catch by Roaring Fork center fielder Jordan Hirro helped keep Basalt off the scoreboard in the top of the eighth inning, the Rams went to work in the bottom half of the frame.

With two outs, Rascon and Strack-Loertscher reached on infield singles, setting the stage for Beltran’s heroics.

“I was nervous,” Beltran said, “but I knew I had to do something about it, so I just went with the pitch.”

The result: an opposite-field double that sent the hosts home happy.

Rascon, who pitched the game’s final 32⁄3 innings, picked up the win on the mound for Roaring Fork (4-7 overall, 4-5 in the 3A Western Slope League). He struck out six and surrendered three hits, mixing in a 3-for-4 day at the plate.

Gross and Strack-Loertscher chipped in with two-hit days for the Rams, who travel to Cedaredge for a doubleheader on Saturday.

Basalt (1-7 overall, 1-6 in the 3A WSL) heads to Cedaredge for a twin bill on Thursday.

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