WEST GLENWOOD (3/14/15) – The Battle Mountain Huskies, who dropped a doubleheader to Glenwood Springs last season by a combined score of 25-1, got the jump on the Demons 5-4 in their season and Western Slope League opener Saturday.
The Huskies (2-2) had already played three games and the advantage showed as Glenwood pitchers walked seven and the Demons committed four errors in a four-run fifth inning.
Returning ace lefthander Chase Nieslanik was on a 75-pitch count limit in the Demons’ first game of the season, but exceeded it when he walked three, made an error on an attempted sacrifice bunt, and was victimized by three other miscues as the Huskies snapped a scoreless tie with base hits from Franklin Reilly and Daniel Caballero.
The Demons, who were held hitless through four innings by the slow breaking pitches of Shawn Weller, and left the bases loaded in the fourth, finally found their hitting shoes in the home half of the fifth.
Luke Ray dropped a pop-fly single to right, and Quinn Kimminau, given a reprieve when catcher Wyatt Harwood dropped his foul pop up, drew a walk. A couple of wild pitches moved Ray to third and Ian Scruton’s single through the left side of the infield plated the first Glenwood run. With two outs and runners on second and third, sophomore Stephen Romero hit a ball up the middle that the shortstop got to, but threw away, bringing the Demons within one run, 4-3/
Scruton threw a scoreless sixth in relief of Nieslanik, who moved to first base after 88 pitches. Nieslanik, 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA last season, and also led the 2014 squad with 5 home runs, led off the sixth with a solo shot over the right field fence on a hanging curve ball to tie the score.
But Scruton’s control deserted him in the top of the seventh as he walked the first two hitters. Romero came on to strike out Weller, but walked the next hitter to load the bases with one out. Hunter Meier shot a ball towards left field but Scruton made a rolling stop. He was unable to make a throw and Caballero scored, but the sensational play saved a second run. On the next pitch, Scruton scooped up a grounder, stepped on second and fired to first for an inning-ending doubleplay.
Kiefer Brocker got a possible Glenwood rally started by singling to center on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, but was trapped off the bag by Harwood’s snap throw, and the next two hitters fanned to end the game.
“We’re a little rough,” coach Eric Nieslanik said before the game, as his team prepared to open the league season without benefit of any pre-season warmk-up games.
Luke Ray (0-2 last season) was scheduled to pitch the second game of the doubleheader, and Glenwood continues league play hosting Eagle Valley on Tuesday at 3 p.m. The Demons finally get to play some pre-season games with a tournament in Manitou Springs next weekend.