KMTS Baseball: Big Seventh Preserves Demons’ 3-0 League Start

GYPSUM (4/4/18) – Chano Gonzalez had it going on – again. But with the Glenwood Springs baseball team coming off its spring break hiatus and a big doubleheader with Summit approaching Saturday, coach Eric Nieslanik went to his other starter to finish what would turn out to be an 8-2 Western Slope League win at Eagle Valley Wednesday. Glenwood (4-2, 3-0) remains undefeated in the WSL and moves ahead of Palisade (5-2, 2-0) for first place in the standings.

Gonzalez, who had closed out the Demons’ pre-vacation schedule with a 5-hit, 10-strikeout, complete-game (111 pitch) win over Steamboat Springs, was even better against Eagle Valley (1-7, 1-2) through four innings and 78 pitches in the resumption of the WSL season eleven days later.

Thanks to a pair of two-out RBI singles by catcher Jake Brown and shoddy defense by the Devils that keyed two more runs in the 4th, Gonzalez had a 4-0 lead, having allowed just two hits and striking out six when Davis Deaton replaced him on the hill.

The move looked prescient when Deaton, making his first bullpen appearance after splitting decisions in his two starts, struck out the side in the 5th inning on 11 pitches. The senior lefthander made it five straight K’s in the 6th before running into trouble of his own making.

Opposing pitcher John Walsh walked when the ump ruled a 3-2 curve was just outside the strike zone, then Deaton was called for a balk. When he couldn’t come up with a dribbler between the mound and first base, that set up a double steal resulting in Eagle’s first run. Deaton recorded his sixth strikeout to finish the frame.

Leading 4-1 in the top of the seventh, Glenwood mixed in four base hits with an intentional walk to Brown, who was 3-for-3, yielding four runs for an 8-1 lead. Key hits included Deaton’s 0-2 looper that scored Tyler Boyd with the inning’s first run, and Cole Houston’s third hit of the game, a 2-run double to left.

Staked to that seven-run cushion, Deaton struggled to find the strike zone, walking the lead-off hitter, and tossing two wild pitches before getting his seventh strikeout on a 3-2 pitch. Garrett Flaagan’s wind-blown pop-up was snagged by centerfielder Dylan Albright, scoring Lee Bullock from third.

With two outs, Zak Cossette beat out a bunt, followed by two more walks to load the bases, before Deaton snagged Walsh’s ankle-high liner to end the game.

Gonzalez improved to 3-1 with the win, and the 3-inning, 63-pitch outing earned Deaton a save, setting up the two Demon hurlers to start Saturday’s double-dip with the Summit Tigers (5-4, 1-1 WSL), who handed Rifle (4-4, 3-1) its first league loss, 9-4, last Saturday.