Titans split with Longhorns in afternoon doubleheader
It was a tale of two games Saturday at Coal Ridge High School, as the Titans’ baseball team hosted conference foe Basalt for a doubleheader in New Castle.
In game one action it was a battle between right-handers, as Coal Ridge started Jared Lund, while the visiting Longhorns sent Jackson Rappaport to the mound. The Longhorn bats were subdued by Lund in the first inning, as Lund struck out two of the first three hitters of the game, keeping the Longhorns off the board. The Titans were able to get to Rappaport early with the first two batters reaching base. Lund led off with a double, and Carson Miller laid down a bunt, reaching base safely with two on and nobody out. Rappaport settled in after the first two hitters, striking out Jared Whitaker, popping up Ryan Kotz and striking out Jake Whitaker to end the Titans’ threat.
Lund’s dominance continued in the second as he sat the Longhorns down in order, striking out two of the three hitters once again. Kolby Lord started the bottom of the second for the Titans with single, but was caught stealing for the first out of the inning. With two outs in the inning, Oscar Salazar reached on a single and stole second, before Rappaport walked the next two batters to load the bases. The Titans couldn’t push a run across, though, as Miller hit into the 1-3 groundout to end the inning.
The hitting drought continued for the Longhorns as Spencer Ellsperman and Rappaport both struck out in the third. Ricky Koch reached base after being hit by Lund, but was caught off base on a pick-off play to end the top of the third. With no offense behind him, Rappaport found his groove on the mound, striking out the side in the bottom of the third.
Lund stayed strong in the fourth inning, setting the Longhorns down in order. Coal Ridge caught some two-out lightning in the bottom of the fourth innng, as Lane Stecklien was hit by a pitch and Jared Lund drew a walk by Rappaport in the inning. Coal Ridge came up empty again though, as Miller grounded out, keeping the game scoreless.
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Alex Seibert was able to kick start the fifth for the Longhorns as he doubled to open the inning. With Seibert on second, the Longhorns were able to get to Lund, as Reuss changed spots with Seibert, hitting a RBI double to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. The Titans were able to get out of the inning, though, as the Titans caught Reuss trying to steal third for the first out, followed by a strikeout from Thomas Wirth and a flyout by Ellsperman to end the top of the fifth.
The Titans bats went quiet in the fifth, as Rappaport stayed clean, setting down the Titans in order.
Lund’s arm continued to halt the bats of Basalt, with a flyout from Rappaport and a lineout from Ricky Koch, before then ending the inning by striking out Jenkins. Basalt went to its bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, bringing in Torres, who struck out the side in order.
Basalt pinch hitter Chase Maythem reached base to start the top of the seventh inning, but was nabbed trying to steal second for the first out. Torres then followed up with a grounder to short for the second out, before Seibert hit a double to get into scoring position. Reuss then hit a deep fly ball for the third out, ending the Longhorns’ threat.
With the Titans down to their last three outs of the game, Torres made quick work of Stecklien, who hit a grounder to first for the first out, followed by a strikeout looking from Lund. Pinch hitter Nathan Whitaker reached with a single, but was stranded at first after Jared Whitaker struck out to end the game.
“Jared Lund really pitched his tail off,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Dan Larsen said following the game one loss. “I told my players one little mistake can cost you a game like that.”
After a brief break, the teams hit the diamond for game two. As game one turned out to be a pitchers’ duel, the nightcap was a hitter’s buffet.
Basalt started slow, stranding three runners after Coal Ridge’s Kotz gave up a single and walked two batters to start the game. Fortunately for Coal Ridge, the Titans escaped the inning without allowing a run.
Titan bats came to life in the bottom of the first, as Lund singled, followed by a sac bunt by Miller to get Lund into scoring position. Jared Whitaker drew first blood with an RBI single to plate Lund. Kotz then reached base on a walk by Koch, starting for Basalt. Coal Ridge plated two more runs before the Longhorns were able to get two out on a grounder to the pitcher and a strikeout.
The second inning proved lucrative for the Longhorns as they plated four runs to take the lead before giving it back, allowing two runs by Coal Ridge in the bottom of the inning.
Basalt knotted the game in the third when a double by Jake Reardon scored Jenkins. After Jake Whitaker was hit by Basalt’s Seibert, the Titans were dispatched in order, keeping the game tied.
Action heated up in the fourth as the Longhorns took back the lead in the top inning, before the game took a turn as quick as the Colorado weather.
Stecklien started the inning with a double deep to right field. After a flyout by Lund, Miller and Jared Whitaker reached base on walks, loading the bases. Kotz followed up an RBI single to plate Stecklien to open up the scoring. Jake Whitaker walked to load the bases again, before Kevin Cordasco was hit by a pitch to score Miller. Another walk was issued and another run scored to give the Titans an 8-6 lead. Pinch hitter Chauncey Flemmings scored another run with a RBI single to left, before the scoring continued with a wild pitch to plate another run.
After going all the way through the order, Stecklien came to the plate again, this time reaching base on balls to reload the bases. The runs continued to pour in as the Titans recorded 11 runs in the inning to take a commanding 16-6 lead over Basalt. A total of seven walks were issued in the inning.
Coal Ridge put in closer Jared Whitaker in the top of the fifth trying to close out the Longhorns. After striking out Wirth, Whitaker walked Rappaport. A strikeout by Alonzo Silva left the Longhorns with one out to try and pull their way back into the ball game. Torres was able to keep the Longhorns alive with a single, moving Rappaport into scoring position, before Koch loaded the bases via a walk from Whitaker.
Whitaker was able to induce a pop up to end the inning and the game, giving the Titans a split in the doubleheader.
With the split in the doubleheader the Titans move to 6-10 overall (5-3 in Western Slope League) on the season. While the Longhorns overall record stands at 7-6-1 (4-5-1 3A WSL).
The Titans will travel to Olathe on Tuesday, while the Longhorns will travel to Moffat County on Tuesday.
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament this weekend.