WEST GLENWOOD (5/11/19) – With a doubleheader sweep over Steamboat Springs, the Glenwood Demons are in position to clinch second place in the Western Slope League by defeating Eagle Valley in the regular season finale on Monday.
Wheatley Nieslanik dominated the Sailors in the opening game, limiting them to three hits, two unearned runs, and striking out ten, while driving in the first two runs of a 5-2 victory. Sam Fitzwilliams pitched a scoreless final inning to earn a save, and three pitchers combined on a one-hit shutout, 16-0, in the second game.
Nieslanik’s one-out double gave the Demons a 2-0 lead in the second inning of game one and Cole Houston picked up the first of his four RBIs on the day by lining a single to right.
However in the third, the bottom of the Steamboat lineup got to Nieslanik for a single, and a walk and three stolen bases, combined with a pair of throwing errors, cut the margin to 3-2.
Glenwood answered in its half with a one-out single and stolen base by Tyler Dollahan and Fitzwilliams' RBI single to left for a 4-2 lead.
Nieslanik settled down, allowing just one baserunner in the next three innings, which included five straight strikeouts. The sophomore righthander wrapped up his six innings with a pair of strikeouts, giving him a career-high ten.
For insurance, singles by Kai Kanzer and Houston added another run in the sixth before Fitzwilliams got a game-ending doubleplay in the seventh, started by Nieslanik at third base.
Because Steamboat was supposed to host the doubleheader, Glenwood agreed to have the Sailors be the home team for game two, but quickly removed any suspense by scoring three runs in the top of the first and again in the second for a quick 6-0 lead.
Sailor starting pitcher Ethen Johnson walked four and allowed seven hits in those two innings, which featured two RBIs each from Kanzer and Garrett Dollahan. Starter Dylan Lee pitched out of two-on, one-out trouble in the first, including Steamboat's only hit, a single by leadoff batter Colter Gansmann, and struck out four in the next two frames before giving way to Houston in the fourth.
Five runs in the top of the fourth, keyed by a mammoth blast over the left field fence by Houston, ran the score to 11-0 when the junior took the hill. Houston cruised through the frame, striking out two and retiring the Sailors in order on 11 pitches.
Glenwood piled on another 5-spot in the top of the fifth with Chano Gonzalez singling home a pair, Tyler Dollahan driving him in, and two more scoring on a double by Fitzwilliams.
Leo Anchondo finished the five-inning, mercy-rule win by getting a couple of strikeouts and a pop-up after walking the first two hitters.
Fitzwilliams had a big day, going 5-for-6 with four runs scored and 5 RBIs in the doubleheader. Garrett Dollahan was 4-for-5 in the two games. Gonzalez broke out of a 3-for-30 slump, going 3-for-4 in game two with a pair of doubles. Nieslanik upped his record to 4-2 with the game one win, and Lee improved to 3-1 with the second-game victory.
Glenwood (13-9, 8-3 WSL) has a one-game lead over Eagle Valley (12-5, 7-4), and even though the Demons defeated the Devils 6-0 in an earlier meeting, it is unlikely that a win in the teams' matchup Monday would significantly alter their respective RPI playoff standings. Eagle Valley is currently ranked sixth in the 4A RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), one spot behind Palisade (16-7, 12-0), while Glenwood sits at number 26, three spots behind fourth-place Rifle (13-7, 6-5).
The rankings, which seemingly make little sense based on head-to-head results or league standings, are based on a combination of the teams’ winning percentages and those of their opponents. So a loss to a team with a winning record would improve a team’s standing more than a win over one with a poor record. Glenwood will likely make the playoffs, but face a much tougher first-round opponent than Eagle Valley and possibly also Rifle, even if the Demons finish ahead of both in the Western Slope League.