RIFLE (5/27/14) – There was no “Hoosiers” moment in the Western Slope All Star baseball game, as the 4A team jumped out to a 10-0 lead by the second inning and cruised to a 21-4 victory over the 3A players at Cooper Field in Rifle, Tuesday. It was only one game, and an All-Star format isn’t a true indication, but the one-sided result was a clear demonstration of why classifications are in place at the high school level.
Steamboat junior Billy Clark, who led the 4A WSL with a .694 average this season, jump-started the rout with a first-inning, 2-run double to the base of the fence in center off Gunnison starter Nicky Romano, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Glenwood’s Chase Nieslanik for a 3-0 lead. But that was only the beginning.
After WSL co-player of the year Bailey Hoffmeister set down all six 3A players he faced in two innings of mound work, a wild streak by Romano contributed to a 7-run bottom of the 2nd, capped by the Rifle pitcher’s bases-clearing 3-run double. The table was set for a big inning by two walks and a hit batter opening the frame. A single by Eagle Valley’s Harrison Stevens and ground out by freshman Frank Reilly of Battle Mountain nudged the 4A lead to 5-0 before another walk filled the bases for Hoffmeister, who later scored on an error. Nieslanik drove in the final run of the inning with an inside-out single off the third baseman’s glove.
Eagle Valley’s Travis Edgar took that 10-0 lead and dominated the lower classification for the next two innings, striking out 4, while setting down six straight. In the last of the third, Glenwood’s Chris Sarabia hit the game’s only home run over the left field fence off Moffat County’s Colten Yost to make it 11-0. The Bulldog righty would prove to be the most effective of the 3A hurlers, however, as that was the only hit he allowed in two innings.
Delta’s Isaiah Kathrein, a lefty whose 7 wins were tied with Hoffmeister for the 4A WSL lead this season, yielded the first hit and run to the 3A stars when Basalt’s Tim Johnson led off the 5th with a single up the middle, advanced to third on a ground out and a wild pitch, and scored by beating firstbaseman Edgar’s throw home on a grounder by Richie Winkler from Coal Ridge.
Winkler, who limited Faith Christian to one run on 4 hits through 4 innings of the Titans’ eventual 10-0 loss to the Eagles in the first round of the 3A state playoffs, didn’t fare so well in the last of the 5th, yielding 3 runs on 3 hits, a walk and hit batsman. Control was an issue for all five 3A pitchers, as each one hit a batter (with Romano plunking 3) and combined to give 12 walks in 8 innings.
Hoffmeister, Palisade’s Andrew Bowles, and Sarabia were each hit twice in the contest, but all three exacted revenge with their bats. Hoffmeister, in addition to the 3-run double, scored 3 times while reaching base in his first 4 at bats. Bowles, after being hit in consecutive at bats, drilled a 2-run double off Basalt’s Nick Calabro. Earlier in the 6th, Delta’s Keaton Reiher stole home following a dropped pick off throw, making the score 17-2.
Sarabia’s home run came an inning after being hit by a pitch. The Demon senior, who started the all star game behind the plate after just switching to catcher this season, was hit again in the 7th by Calabro. The Basalt righty, who loaded the bases with two walks surrounding Sarabia’s 10th hit-by-pitch this spring, got out of the jam by striking out Reilly and Delta’s Derek Horn.
Nieslanik, second in league wins with 6, and strikeouts (to Edgar), gave up an unearned run is his one inning of work on the hill and was followed by Rifle’s Tieg Hauer, who retired 3 straight in the 7th thanks to a running catch in center by Clark, but ran into trouble in the 8th. Three of the four Basalt all-stars singled with Tucker Jenkins scoring on Johnson’s 2nd hit and Noah Schoenberger coming around on a passed ball and an error.
In the home half of the 8th, the 4A stars took advantage of a hit batsman (naturally) and two walks by Tylor Beach of Cedaredge, combined with an error and singles by Edgar and Kathrein to plate four more runs.
Reiher, co-player of the year with Hoffmeister, used an assortment of sidearm and overhand deliveries to retire the side in order in the 9th, striking out two to conclude the game.
Hoffmeister was selected Most Valuable Player for the game by KMTS broadcasters. Clark had two hits and scored 4 runs for the victors, and Nieslanik went 3-for-3.
The 3A team featured 18 players, all of whom batted, though just nine could play in the field at one time. The 4A team had 12 players, with all of them getting into the game on defense for several innings. Because the coaches, headed by chief organizer Troy Phillips of host Rifle, wanted to give the players more chances to hit and field, the game went 9 innings (instead of the usual 7), and the 10-run mercy rule was not in effect. In previous seasons, the all star game was made up solely of 4A players, divided into two teams.