KMTS BASEBALL: Demons Suffer Painful Sweep in Palisade

PALISADE (4/23/16) – Not only did Glenwood Springs lose a pair of two-run late-inning leads in a tenth inning 11-10 walk-off loss at Palisade, but in dropping the second game, 14-4 in five, senior pitcher Colin Brown injured his arm and had to leave with two outs and the bases loaded.

Coach Eric Nieslanik, choosing not to pitch ace Stephen Romero when he reported some soreness following a 2-1 loss to Rifle on Wednesday, turned to three pitchers making their 2016 varsity debuts in game two of the doubleheader. The third of those, Peyton Hagemann, following starter Chano Gonzalez and Easton Gaddis, hit Keenan High on his second pitch after Brown’s injury to force across the game-ending run. High was the eighth Bulldog to be hit by a pitch in game two.

The Demons did some hitting of a different kind in the opening game of the doubleheader, with a season-high 17 against the top two pitchers in the Western Slope League, beginning with three runs on three hits off starter John Taber in the first inning.

The lead didn’t last long as the Bulldogs (9-6, 8-1 WSL) answered with seven consecutive players reaching base in the home half against Kyle La Couture to grab a 4-3 lead. Glenwood threatened in the second with two more hits but Nate Woll robbed Romero of a single up the middle, retiring the side with a diving tag of second.

La Couture continued to struggle in the last half of the inning, with a single, a hit batter, and three wild pitches leading to two more runs, and running his pitch count to 47.

Glenwood continued to hit Taber, who had allowed just 13 hits in 26 innings prior to the game, adding a double by Cooper Cornelius and a single by John Jensen, but a doubleplay turned the Demons away and despite 7 hits in 3 innings, they trailed 6-3.

La Couture began having success with his curveball and retired 11 of 12 Bulldogs from the end of the second through the fifth, but Taber also settled down until Cornelius and Jensen hit back-to-back doubles to open the sixth. A single by Davis Deaton put runners on first and third with no outs and brought in Palisade’s ace, Joe Lucas.

Taber’s 0.81 ERA (earned run average) was second in the league to Lucas, who in 25 innings had yet to allow an earned run and was 4-0. He got the first hitter on a force at second, but Gaddis ripped a single to left to tie the score. After a pop-up and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, Romero plated the season’s first two earned runs against Lucas with a single to right for a 7-6 Demon lead and a wild pitch upped the advantage to 8-6.

A pair of errant throws sabotaged La Couture in the last of the sixth, though he did allow three hits and a walk and was replaced by Deaton with two runners on and the score tied at 8.

Deaton retired the Bulldog clean-up hitter, Max Noland (much more from him later) and was bailed out of a bases-loaded, one-out bottom of the seventh jam when Gonzalez flipped a grounder to Romero whose rifle-shot to first completed a double play.

In the bottom of the eighth, Deaton retired Noland after a two-out double by Matt Seriani and Glenwood got to Lucas again in the ninth, with Cornelius
and Jensen each getting their fourth hits and Deaton’s single loading the bases. Cy Hassell walked for one run and Gaddis’s third single gave the Demons a 10-8 advantage.

Deaton, in his fourth inning of relief allowed a leadoff double followed by a one out walk, but nearly escaped with the win. Gaddis forced the lead runner at third for the second out, and Austin Bernal’s sharp grounder bounced off Deaton’s throwing hand. For a moment, he couldn’t find the ball, then fired to first, but the runner was ruled safe, loading the bases.

After a conference with coaches and umpires, Deaton remained in the game, but his command was gone, and two wild pitches tied the game. Brown came in to walk the bases loaded, but struck out Seriani to send the game to the tenth.

Centerfielder High grabbed a liner by Gonzalez, then chased down Romero’s long drive to right center, before Jake Brown doubled down the third base line. Bulldog coach Aaron Howard wisely walked Cornelius intentionally, then Jensen was retired on a grounder to short.

On the fifth pitch to Noland, leading off the bottom of the tenth the junior catcher drilled a walk-off home run high and deep over the “Maroon Monster,” the 15-foot leftfield wall. Lucas, with five innings of relief and 72 pitches, improved his record to 5-0, despite being on the hook for the loss until the Bulldogs’ ninth-inning rally to tie.

The freshman Gonzalez, making his first varsity start in game two, helped the Demons take a 1-0 lead with a double, followed by a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Cornelius. Deaton lined a single to center off Seriani, but Romero was nailed at home on High’s throw.

Palisade wasted no time getting to Gonzalez with two doubles, a walk, and a throwing error leading to a 3-1 lead. Seriani, with only six innings pitched in the Bulldogs’ first 14 games, shut the Demons out for the next three frames, while a string of walks and hit batsmen, first from Gonzalez, then Gaddis, helped Palisade tally 6 more runs.

Brown yielded an unearned run in the fourth for a 10-1 Palisade lead and a mercy-rule ending looked likely. However, Seriani hit Gaddis leading off the fifth, and back-to-back singles by La Couture and Gonzalez loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Romero plated one and Cornelius, who wound of 6-for-6 for the day with 5 RBI’s, drove in two with a two-out double to cut the lead to six.

Brown hit the leadoff batter, and after a single by Noland, Isaac Maestas belted a 3-run homer over the centerfield fence to pad the lead to 13-4. Brown hit the next batter, then gave up a single, but struck out Freddie Horn for the second out. After Bernal looped a single to center, loading the bases, Brown bent over at the waist, holding his arm, forcing a pitching change, and the walk-off hit batsman ended the difficult doubleheader sweep by the Bulldogs.

The Demons (5-8, 3-6), despite a pair of one-run losses to the league-leading Rifle Bears, and the near-miss in the first game versus Palisade, have now lost their last four league games. Glenwood resumes play with a non-league 4 p.m. contest at Coal Ridge on Wednesday.