WEST GLENWOOD SPRINGS (3/21/19) — Walks were the undoing of starting pitchers Chano Gonzalez and Cole Houston in the first two games of the Glenwood Springs 2019 baseball season, but Gonzalez turned a four-pitch free pass in the bottom of the seventh into a walk-off 12-11 win over Coal Ridge Thursday on a base hit by Dylan Lee.
Gonzalez pitched the first five innings of the Demons’ season-opening 9-2 loss to Elizabeth Wednesday, allowing just one, fifth-inning hit and a single run, but six walks, two hit batsmen and 97 pitches caused him to exit with the score tied at one. Reliever Wheatley Nieslanik was roughed up in the top of the seventh for seven runs, making Lee’s run-scoring double in the home half a moot footnote.
Not so, a day later, when a similar fate befell Houston, who left in the fifth with a no-hitter, betrayed by five walks, two hit batters, and three wild pitches among 98 deliveries. Glenwood had a 7-3 lead at the time as Lee pitched out of a bases-loaded, one out jam.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Demons appeared to clinch the outcome, increasing their lead to 9-3 on an RBI single by Ash Stolley, who was 3-for-3 on the day, and a run-scoring groundout by Garrett Dollahan. However, Lee’s mound success evaporated in the sixth when singles by Kevin Cordasco and Jared Lund, followed by Colton Westphal’s double and a wild pitch yielded three Titan runs, cutting the Demon lead to 9-6.
Once again Glenwood’s bats seemed to put the game away when two-out, run-producing singles by Houston and Ryan Welsh boosted the advantage to 11-6 going into the final frame.
Lee went back out for the seventh but immediately found himself in trouble as Oscar Salazar led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Ivan Gallardo’s double to left. Carson Miller made the score 11-8 with a single and Braedon Hubbard walked, bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs.
Lee struck out Cordasco looking on a curveball, but Jared Lund, who had relieved starter Lane Stecklien in the fifth inning, belted a triple to the base of the right field fence. Glenwood coach Eric Nieslanik then asked Sam Fitzwilliams to put out the fire. He got Westphal to ground out to third, but Lund scored the tying run. Looking at a second consecutive, late inning pitching blow-up by the bullpen, Fitzwilliams retired the Titans’ leading hitter, Ryan Kotz, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh knotted at eleven.
Lund struck out the first two Demons on curveballs, but walked Gonzalez, who’d doubled and been robbed twice on sensational catches by centerfielder Kotz. On the second offering to Lee, Gonzalez stole second, and when Gallardo’s diving try came up short on Lee’s looper to right, Glenwood had evened its record at 1-1. Coal Ridge fell to 1-2, after an opening 7-5 win over Roaring Fork, followed by an 18-6 thumping by Rifle on Wednesday.
Fitzwilliams, who had two hits, scored three runs, and stole three bases, was the winning pitcher for the Demons. Houston allowed no hits and no runs in his four-and-one-third innings, striking out 11. In addition to his game-winning single, Lee added another base hit and stolen base, lessoning the sting of allowing eight runs in two innings pitched. Stolley was on base all four times, scoring three runs, and stealing two bases, including home in the second inning.
Lund took the loss for Coal Ridge, but helped fuel the Titans’ late rallies with two hits, 2 RBIS, and scored three runs.
This was the last game before spring break for the two schools, however Glenwood is traveling to Arizona to play in the Greenway High School Festival, March 25-26-27.