CRAIG (5/512) — Glenwood baseball coach Eric Nieslanik tried something he\'d never done before, and it helped the Demons reach a goal that\'s eluded them for three years and insured a doubleheader sweep of Moffat County, 18-1 and 6-5, Saturday in the regular season finale.
When Cody Derby, who was pitching a four-hitter and leading 6-3, walked the leadoff man to open the seventh inning, Nieslanik brought first-game winner Robert Reynolds. â€œI\'ve never done that before,â€ Nieslanik said, â€œbut Robert\'s pitch count was low (45 pitches in his four innings of game one),â€ and a win would guarantee Glenwood one of the 4A Western Slope League playoff spots.
Reynolds got a pop up for one out, then Chris Sarabia made two sensational stops on ground balls at third, but threw the ball away on both allowing a run to score. Reynolds got Ivan Nielsen, the victim of Glenwood\'s 11-run second-inning outburst in game one, but two-for-two with a double against Derby, to hit yet another grounder to Sarabia. He made sure of the force-out at second, but a run scored, closing the gap to 6-5 and bringing up Gabe Maldonando, whose sixth-inning home run cut Derby\'s 6-1 lead in half.
Another grounder to Sarabia, who gunned the throw to first, and the playoff celebration began as Reynolds earned the first save of the season for Glenwood and Derby struck out 10 (23 in his last two starts) while improving to 4-3 with wins in three of his last four outings.
â€œIt\'s been an up-and-down season,â€ Nieslanik observed after seeing his team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, â€œbut with Robert and Cody pitching well, we\'ve come through and figured it out. The bottom half of the order has really improved and turned in some really good at bats.â€
That would be Carder Ullom (2-for-2 with a triple and two runs scored), Sarabia (an RBI single, a walk and run scored), Caiden Sorensen and Jon Forristall (three walks between them). All together, those four players reached base in 8 of 10 at bats against starting and losing pitcher Wyatt Oberwitte.
Forristall, who with Derby, Reynolds, Cole Ryan, and Miguel Vega, are the team\'s seniors, had 4 hits and scored three runs in the opening rout of the Bulldogs, and Derby went 5-for-5, with a double and home run, scoring 4 runs and knocking in 5. Vega had 3 hits and 2 RBIs and Ryan and Pete Ray each drove in 2 runs with 2 base hits, including Ryan\'s 4th homer of the season in the first inning. Reynolds is now 5-1 for the season.
First place Palisade (12-0) swept Steamboat Springs (5-7) to eliminate the Sailors from the playoffs. Delta (8-4) also narrowly swept Eagle Valley (4-8), 13-10 and 8-7, so the Panthers and Demons are tied for the second-and-third playoff spots behind Palisade. Glenwood will await the release of the playoff brackets from CHSAA to find out where and whom they will play, but for now, â€œWe\'re gonna celebrate these two wins,â€ Nieslanik said, because a sweep in Moffat County is something else that hasn\'t happened in a very long time.