Rams tripped up by Skiers in middle innings
Things started off in positive fashion for the Roaring Fork Rams baseball team Thursday at Ron Patch Field, but the game quickly derailed for the Rams in the middle innings, as the visiting Aspen Skiers used a three-run fourth inning and a five-run fifth inning to down the Rams, 9-2, on an overcast day.
“I think we showed some of our inexperience with some of our kids,” Roaring Fork Head Coach Marty Madsen said following the loss. “I still have a young group; there’s a lot of youth here, and I think that emerged when some pressure spots came up today. We just didn’t make some routine plays that we needed to make. It was really one inning that we fell apart.”
Roaring Fork raced out to a 2-0 lead behind junior starting pitcher Dawson Kuhl, scoring one run each in the bottom of the first and second innings, thanks to RBI singles from sophomore Frankie Harrington, and senior Layne Crisp, but things went sideways in the top of the fourth inning for the Rams.
Kuhl, who hadn’t allowed a hit through the first three innings of the game, walked Aspen senior Matthew Popish to lead off the inning. Following a sacrifice bunt by Aspen senior Tom Ryback that moved Popish up to second, Roaring Fork junior catcher Ralph Good tried to pick off Popish at second, but his pick-off attempt short-hopped Roaring Fork senior shortstop Drew Broadhurst and bounced into center, allowing Popish to advance to third.
Aspen senior Jamison Fuentes then stepped up and roped a single to right, driving in Popish to get the Skiers on the board.
Three consecutive errors after Fuentes’ hit allowed the Skiers to take a 3-2 lead before Good threw out an Aspen runner attempting to steal second, ending the Skiers’ threat.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Rams looked to get back on top, but Fuentes, who came on in relief of Aspen senior starting pitcher Tyler Clayton in the bottom of the second inning, promptly shut down the Rams in the bottom of the frame, recording two strikeouts and inducing a groundout to third, sending the Skiers back to the plate for the top of the fifth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Broadhurst had to relieve Kuhl on the mound after the junior walked sophomore Aiden Lenningham to lead off the inning.
With Broadhurst on the mound, the Rams were turning to their ace, who threw a perfect game one week ago at home. Things wouldn’t be the same this outing for Broadhurst, as the Skiers saw the first two hitters against Broadhurst reach on errors, allowing Lenningham to score, pushing Aspen’s lead to 4-2.
A walk to Popish then loaded the bases for the Skiers before Broadhurst got Ryback to ground out to him on the mound. With the bases still loaded, Fuentes struck again for the Skiers, lashing a two-run single to left, making it a 6-2 game.
Senior Sam Dresser followed Fuentes’ single with a two-run single of his own, driving in Ryback and Fuentes to make it an 8-2 game for Aspen.
Three batters later, Broadhurst got the Rams out of the inning by striking out Lenningham, but the Rams found themselves in an 8-2 hole with one of the top pitchers in the area on the mound opposing them.
After coming on in the second inning with two outs, Fuentes didn’t allow a hit, and let just two Roaring Fork hitters reach base via walks. Closing out the game, Fuentes punched out 13 of the 18 hitters he faced in his 5.1 innings of work on the afternoon.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” Madsen said. “We got to Clayton there early in the game, but they brought Jamison in, and he has great stuff. We hadn’t seen that type of pitching before, other than Delta. He’s another high-caliber arm in our league, and we weren’t quite ready to hit against him.”
With Fuentes dealing on the mound down the stretch, Aspen scratched across one more run in the top of the seventh as Dresser drilled an RBI double down the left-field line, scoring Ryback from first after an infield single.
In the loss, Roaring Fork recorded just five hits on the day, as Broadhurst doubled in the first inning, Harrington singled in the first, freshman Finn Leahy singled in the second, sophomore Isabella Hernandez singled in the second and Crisp singled in the second.
Roaring Fork (2-3) now heads into Spring Break and will have a week off before returning to action Thursday, April 5 in a home game against Steamboat Springs.