GLENWOOD SPRINGS(5/10/16) – “Finally,” Glenwood baseball coach Eric Nieslanik said after his team closed out the season with a decisive 14-2 win over Summit. “It feels really good to play a full, complete game and finish up like this.”
The Demons, who broke a fifth-place tie with the Tigers (7-12, 5-9 WSL) behind a strong, complete-game effort from junior Stephen Romero, finish the season with an 8-11 overall mark and 6-8 in the Western Slope League.
Nieslanik admitted his team was inconsistent and cited a couple of reasons: “We played close to twenty kids and were a relative young team that sometimes made some poor choices, but it was fun to see the bats come through.”
Because so much of Summit’s season has been played on the road, the Tigers were the “home” team in the make-up of last Saturday’s rain-shortened doubleheader, and the Demons jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. The first six hitters reached base with the big blows being a two-run single by Romero and Tristen Howe’s 2-run double.
The next inning Romero belted a line drive home run over the right centerfield fence and took a 4-hit shutout into the 7th inning. The Demons flashed some leather also, centerfielder Peyton Hagemann making a run-saving catch of a liner in the gap to end the first with the bases loaded. In the third a relay from Cy Hassell to Brandon Benzel to catcher Jake Brown cut down a runner at home, and thirdbaseman Jon Jensen turned a potential run-scoring double into the third out with a back-handed stop.
Glenwood tacked on two more for an 8-0 lead in the 6th on a base hit by Jensen and sacrifice fly by Kyle LaCouture, then six more in the top of the 7th. Brown led off the final frame with a no-doubt home run over the leftfield fence, Jensen doubled in two more and LaCouture, Chano Gonzalez, and Romero also singled home runs. To cap the scoring, Gonzalez stole home when Summit tried to pick Romero off second base.
That gave the Glenwood ace a 14-0 lead heading to the last of the 7th, which seemed secure with Romero having retired 11 of the last 12 Tigers and using just 85 pitches through six innings.
However the first four batsmen reached base, the shutout ending when Romero hit the number nine batter with the bases loaded. With the bags still full, Blake Olson hit a soft liner back to Romero, who threw to third for a double play. That was fortunate as Turner McDonald belted his third extra base hit of the game for another run before Romero got the final out on his 109th pitch.
Coming after the rain-delayed, sloppiness of Glenwood’s 11-4 loss to Summit Saturday that was called by the umpires with the Demons mounting a bases-loaded comeback in the 6th, this error-free, well-pitched conclusion to the Demons’ season was uplifting. “When Stephen pitches like that (7 hits, 7 strikeouts, and two walks), we’re in it,” Nieslanik said, then turned his thoughts to next year as Glenwood loses just four seniors: LaCouture, Colin Brown, Hassell, and Herbie Vega.
The freshman Gonzalez led the Demons with 19 hits, 7 doubles, and 15 runs scored to go with a .396 average, Romero hit .375 and his 16 RBI tied for the team lead with Cooper Cornelius, who hit .517 with two home runs despite missing seven games with ski team obligations. Jake Brown ripped five doubles, a triple, and today’s home run, driving in 13 runs and hitting .315.
The battery of brothers, catcher Chris and pitcher Davis Deaton also bodes well for the future. Chris hit .375, reaching base 9 times in five games, while the left-handed Davis threw a two-hitter, striking out 11 in winning his last start against Steamboat. Romero gives the Demons a 1-2 starting punch, leading the pitching staff with 4 wins, two complete games, and 45 strikeouts in 40 innings.