Roaring Fork downed in doubleheader with Olathe |

Roaring Fork downed in doubleheader with Olathe

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Skylar Smith had pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam just a half inning earlier.

Perhaps the adrenaline carried over.

With one on and one out in the seventh inning of a tie ballgame, the Olathe junior drilled the first pitch he saw from Roaring Fork’s Alex Rascon over the left-field fence.

Smith’s second homer in three innings sparked a five-run Olathe rally and powered the baseball Pirates to a 10-5 win and doubleheader sweep of the host Rams on a sunny Monday in Carbondale.

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“The second one was a curveball that just floated,” Smith said. “I just kind of read it out of his hand.”

Smith’s shot left the Rams, who somehow rebounded from a 20-0 loss in Monday’s opener to hang around in the nightcap, heartbroken.

“They were disappointed,” Roaring Fork coach Tim Nieslanik said. “It’s a tough sport. A lot of times if it’s not your day, it’s just not your day.”

Early on, it looked as though the Rams were headed toward quite the 180 in the nightcap. The hosts scratched out three runs on three hits in the first inning to carry a 3-0 edge into the second.

Nieslanik’s between-games chat with his Rams clearly paid dividends in the early going.

“We just talked about character and pride and not quitting,” the coach said.

Dana Holley led off the rally by reaching base on an error. He took second on a sacrifice bunt by Clay Gross and advanced to third on a passed ball before Rascon brought him home with a line single to right.

Tanner Gianinetti capped the rally three at-bats later with a bloop single to left that brought home two.

Olathe bounced back with two runs in the top of the second before Rascon plated a run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-2 in favor of Roaring Fork.

But that’s when Smith ratcheted up his game on the mound.

The next 14 outs the Pirates recorded were all strikeouts, and he actually struck out 15 during the impressive stretch. A strikeout and passed ball led to the Rams gaining an extra out in the fourth inning, which ended as a rare four-strikeout frame for Smith.

Smith said that’s something he’d never accomplished before.

“Never,” he said with a grin. “That was the first time. It was cool.”

Smith finished with 17 strikeouts and picked up the complete-game win. He allowed eight hits and one earned run.

He also delivered at the plate.

After an RBI base hit by Jake Strack-Loertscher in the fourth inning gave Roaring Fork a 5-3 advantage, Smith dug into the batter’s box in the fifth and smacked a two-run homer to tie the game, a feat he’d duplicate two innings later.

“I thought our kids did a nice job all day,” said Pirates coach Joe Archuleta, whose team improved to 5-2 overall and to 3-1 in the 3A Western Slope League. “The first five innings their pitcher did a really nice job of keeping us off balance. He just got a little tired and left the ball up.”

The pitcher he referenced is Rascon, who surrendered three runs ” two earned ” and struck out five in the first four innings of the second game.

“I thought he threw great,” Nieslanik said. “He was up to 120 pitches and he just got tired. He did everything he could do. I should have pulled him after that first home run.”

With only 13 kids suited up, the skipper had no choice but to leave the right-hander in.

Strack-Loertscher and Rascon led the Rams, now 3-5 in the 3A WSL and 3-7 overall, at the plate in the nightcap, with the former going 3-for-3 with an RBI and the latter 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Nieslanik sent five pitchers to the mound in Monday’s lopsided opener, and walks plagued nearly every Ram hurler in a 20-0 defeat.

“We ran out of arms,” the first-year coach said.

On the flip side, Colby Corey lasted the full five innings for Olathe to earn the win. He struck out eight and allowed three hits.

The Pirates’ Dylan Markley went 4-for-4 at the plate as part of a 5-for-7 afternoon. Willie Corey went 2-for-4 before going 4-for-4 in the nightcap.

Michael Black, Matt Alberico and Rascon had Roaring Fork’s hits.

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