KMTS BASEBALL: NIESLANIK POWERS DEMON COMEBACK FOR SPLIT

GLENWOOD SPRINGS(4/26/14) – Chase Nieslanik had quite an afternoon for a guy who wasn’t supposed to pitch in the Glenwood Demons’ doubleheader split with Eagle Valley Saturday.

It was a ying-and-yang day for Nieslanik, who committed one of Glenwood’s 7 errors and ran into an embarrassing out at home on a walk in a 12-0, first-game loss, then hit 2 home runs and was the winning pitcher in relief in the 12-11 second game. Because he started in the loss to Delta Thursday and will be called on in Tuesday’s game with Rifle, the Demons’ ace left-hander was by-passed on the mound versus the Devils for Tristan Harris, battling back issues, and Chris Sarabia, who hadn’t pitched since 8th grade.

The first game didn’t go very well, as the Demon defense betrayed Harris, making seven errors that contributed to eight unearned runs. The miscues didn’t matter that much because 6-5 Travis Edgar shut out Glenwood on two hits.

In another twist to the pitching conundrum, Edgar played “iron-man” and also started the second game against Sarabia. The Demon senior had the upper hand early, striking out two and retiring the Devils in order before Glenwood took a 1-0 first-inning lead on a pair of Eagle Valley errors.

The new battery’s inexperience helped the Devils take a 2-1 lead in the second. With Sarabia on the hill, junior Bryce Gonzales made just his second appearance behind the plate and his throwing error and passed ball, mixed with a balk cost the Demons two runs.

Nieslanik tied the score, launching his 4th home run of the season over the right field fence in the last of the second, and Sarabia looked to be settling in by picking off a runner and retiring the side with a curve ball for strike three on number-three hitter Wade Ticer in the third.

Edgar, who made only 70 pitches in his 5-inning, complete game shutout, reached 100 for the day as Kiefer Brocker finally lost an 8-pitch battle by grounding out to lead off the home half of the third. But that extended at bat appeared to push Edgar over the edge as Glenwood followed with four straight hits. A single by Harris, the losing pitcher in game one, plated two runs and, after an out, Nieslanik singled in another for a 5-2 Demon lead.

The lead disappeared in the 4th when Edgar led off with a double, just the 4th hit off Sarabia, followed by a walk and three consecutive bunts on which Sarabia and Gonzales twice failed to retire a runner at home, tied the score and brought Luke Ray to the mound.

Cody Byrnes, who had 5 hits and 6 RBIs for Eagle in the doubleheader, drove in two with a single and Ticer singled Byrnes home after a wild pitch for an 8-5 Eagle advantage.

The see-saw contest continued when Slater Sabo relieved Edgar and Ray literally legged out a grounder to the iron-man who had moved to second base and nailed Ray with the throw. Ian Scruton was called out for interference when Sabor picked up his bunt along first but lost the ball trying for the tag. Sarabia overcame the call with a ringing double to right bringing the Demons within one.

Ray demonstrated his toughness by returning to the mound and struck out the last two batters after an opening walk in his final inning. In game one, Nieslanik took off from third on a two-out, 3-2 pitch, only to be tagged out at home on ball four. But he made up for it with a vengeance, belting his second homer of the second game with Sam Carmer aboard to tie the score in the last of the sixth.

Then Nieslanik, making his first relief appearance of the season, struck out the side in the sixth, and Sarabia doubled home Scruton and scored on a double by Harris for a 10-8 lead going into the 7th inning. The two-run cushion didn’t hold up, however, as the first three Devils hit safely to load the bases, and after a strike out, Nieslanik walked in a run, and light-hitting Oscar Gallegos cued a dribbler past the mound to tie the score. The go-ahead run scored on the Demons’ eleventh error of the day, and the 12th followed to load the bases, before Nieslanik got Ticer to ground out to end the 3-run rally.

The yo-yo afternoon took a Demon bounce in the last of the seventh when Quinn Kimminau led off with a single and was doubled to third by Ray. A walk loaded the bases, but when it looked like Scruton’s looper to left would fall in, Kimminau didn’t tag up and Turner Glissman made a diving catch. Sarabia, once again to the rescue, went inside-out, cueing the ball past first for the game-winner, raising an exultant fist as he rounded second with his 4th straight two-bagger.

Nieslanik went from not pitching at all, to being the winner, then the loser, and finally the winner again, raising his pitching mark to 5-2. Harris, Sarabia, and Nieslanik each drove in 4-runs in the nightcap as the Demons rebounded at the plate with 16 hits.

The split drops Eagle Valley (8-5, 6-3 WSL) to third in the league standings and inches Glenwood (8-7, 5-5) closer to fourth-place Rifle (10-6, 7-4), which lost 6-1 in a non-league game at Basalt and will come to Glenwood on Tuesday.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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