WSL All-Star Game just for fun
RIFLE – A parent joked with an umpire before the game. “You get the fun one,” he told the man in blue.”Yeah,” the ump replied, “but they play it serious.”That pretty much summed up Tuesday’s Western Slope League All-Star Game. Those reaching the level of All-Star tend to be rather competitive, and no one took the diamond at Rifle’s Deerfield Complex indifferent to this baseball game’s outcome. In the end, though, the nameless visitors – composed of players from Moffat County, Delta, Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs – topped the nameless host squad, which drew its players from Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Palisade, by a count of 3-0.
“This was a fun thing for them,” said Rifle coach Troy Phillips, who organizes and hosts the annual exhibition tilt. “It’s nice for them to face up against the best this league has to offer.”Pitching ruled this year’s contest. With most of the players not having picked up a bat since season’s end some three or four weeks back, rust may have come into play.All told, the teams combined for just seven hits and stranded a collective 16 runners.Just two of those hits belonged to the hosts, who went up against a powerful trio of hurlers in Moffat County’s Billy Ivy, Eagle Valley’s Dan McKineran and Delta’s Luke Oeltjenbruns. Each pitched three innings, with Oeltjenbruns throwing a scoreless final three and Ivy and McKineran surrendering a hit apiece. Both Oeltjenbruns and McKineran tallied five strikeouts.”There was good pitching on both sides of the ball,” said Moffat County coach Rich Sadvar, charged with managing the visiting team by virtue of the Bulldogs’ second-place league finish. “They threw (four pitchers) and we threw three. Typical of baseball, good pitching beats good hitting, and there was good hitting on both sides of the ball.”Sadvar’s team came up with the big hits when it needed to.
Moffat’s Anthony Flores broke the scoreless deadlock in the top of the fourth with an RBI double into the left-center field gap. Delta’s Oeltjenbruns padded the lead in the seventh with a two-run single.Other than that, neither team was responsible for much in the way of rallies in what proved to be a pretty clean game.”For the most part, pretty much both teams played errorless ball,” said home-team coach Steve Moore of WSL champion Palisade. “A couple of hits and a couple of walks decided it.”Four players from Rifle – Ernesto Mendoza, Alex Haynes, Asa Fix and Steve Samson – and three from Glenwood Springs – Beau Chicoine, Chance Stevens and Tim Cashel – accounted for local presence on the rosters.Chicoine got the starting nod for the hosts, pitching three scoreless innings of one-hit ball. He struck out four before handing the ball over to Palisade’s Leevi Krabbe.
Stevens pitched a scoreless ninth in front of coaches from his soon-to-be collegiate home, Colorado Northwest Community College (Rangely).You can bet he was eager to impress.”It was definitely important,” Stevens said. “We definitely didn’t want to lose this game. It was great to be out there though. We know a lot of the guys. I’ve played with a lot of them in fall ball. It was fun.”Mendoza and his Rifle teammates weren’t among those landing their team’s two hits, but enjoyed the exhibition atmosphere nonetheless.”Playing with all these guys who we’re normally playing against was pretty huge,” said Mendoza, who next year will be a senior first baseman. “The rivalries are pretty intense during the season and so meeting up with them at the end of the season, it’s nice to get to see them one on one. It’s nice to play with them.”Notes: Rosters were culled from the All-Western Slope League teams, which were selected at the end of the season. … Unlike regular-season high school games, the WSL All-Star Game used a nine-inning format. … The host team batted all 14 players on its roster, while the visiting team had just nine at its disposal after seven or eight failed to show up.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.