GYPSUM (4/24/19) – Efficient pitching and excellent defense, along with one big blast and one big inning keyed a 6-0 whitewashing of Eagle Valley and moved Glenwood Springs to a 4-1 Western Slope League record, solidifying the Demons’ hold on second place.
For much of the 2019 season, coach Eric Nieslanik has been conducting tryouts to find a number-two starter behind Chano Gonzalez. In Gypsum Tuesday, Dylan Lee may have staked a prominent claim to the position with a two-hit, 51-pitch shutout for five innings that held off the Devils’ attempt to get closer to Glenwood in the standings.
Eagle’s Gabe Foster matched zeros with Lee and had retired seven straight Demons since opening the game with back-to-back hit batsmen, keeping the visitors off balance with a slow-breaking curveball until Lee stroked the deuce into left field for Glenwood’s first hit in the third inning. Foster, who had started almost every hitter with the breaking ball, changed tactics to his dismay as Tyler Dollahan crushed a first-pitch fastball over the centerfield fence for his league-leading fourth home run of the season and a 2-0 Demon lead.
Meanwhile, Lee, who had pitched an effective five-plus innings in Glenwood’s 7-5 win over Rifle last weekend, but had been roughed up in two relief outings, was inducing ten groundball outs in averaging about seven pitches an inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Demons solved Foster for good. Kai Kanzer belted a curveball over the left fielder’s head for a lead-off double. After a line out to left, Foster walked Wheatley Nieslanik, and Liam McMahon stroked a curve into left to load the bases.
Ash Stolley came through with a single between short and third for one run, and Gonzalez drilled a shot down the left field line, scoring two more. Lee got in on the slugfest, doubling home Chano for a 6-0 lead.
After making just 30 pitches through four innings, Lee struggled in the fifth, giving up a leadoff single and walking his first batter, but Gonzalez scooped up a hot shot and beat the runner to second base, ending the inning with no damage. Lee did add 21 pitches to his count in that frame, so Nieslanik came on to pitch the final two innings.
He walked a man in the 6th and yielded a pair of hits in the seventh, but a sparkling play by thirdbaseman Sam Fitzwilliams stranded runners at second-and-third, ending the game.
All afternoon infielders Fitzwilliams, Gonzalez at short, and Leo Anchondo at second made play-after-play behind Lee with Nieslanik also saving an errant throw at first. Glenwood had seven of their eight hits in the two scoring innings, but it was enough to give the Demons (8-7, 4-1 WSL) a two-game lead for second place over Rifle (10-5, 4-3), which lost 10-0 to first-place Palisade (14-5, 10-0) Tuesday.
Glenwood has a make-up doubleheader with Summit County (3-12, 1-5) scheduled for Friday, while the Bears take on Eagle Valley (7-5, 2-4) in a twin-bill Saturday.