WEST GLENWOOD SPRINGS (4/16/19) –The Battle Mountain Huskies didn’t win a single baseball game last season, so their 7-1 non-league record entering Western Slope League play already represented a substantial achievement in comparison.
However, the Huskies dropped to 0-5 in league play, losing 15-5 and 8-2, while Glenwood Springs excelled in all phases of its league opening doubleheader Tuesday.
The Demons (6-6, 2-0), whose three WSL games have been postponed due to field conditions, were ready for the make-up, double-dip with both Chano Gonzalez and Wheatley Nieslanik pitching their best games to date, holding the Huskies (7-6, 0-5) to a combined 6 hits in 9 innings, while striking out a dozen and walking just one. Their teammates flashed the leather behind them defensively, making several stellar plays throughout the day, and the hitters were 17-for-34 with runners in scoring position, leading to 23 runs on 21 hits.
Gonzalez allowed a lead off single to Eric Biggs in game one and a stolen base, throwing error, and groundout gave Battle Mountain an early 1-0 lead, but that didn’t last long. Glenwood answered in the home half with a bunt single by Gonzalez, who took second when Ash Stolley was trapped off third, and scored on a single by Dylan Lee, whose 15 RBIs are tied with Rifle’s Derek Wagler for sixth in the league.
Gonzalez struck out the final Husky in the first, then recorded nine more strikeouts in the next three innings, leaving the game with just that one hit and run allowed while firing 42 strikes in 48 pitches. Meanwhile, Glenwood added three more runs in the second inning on a double by Nieskanik and singles from Leo Anchondo, Liam McMahon, and Gonzalez. Battle Mountain starter David Reilly was pulled after hitting Tyler Dollahan with the bases loaded to force in the fourth run of the frame.
The Demons also batted around in the third, plating five more runs with another double from Nieslanik igniting the rally, followed by run-scoring singles by McMahon, Stolley, and Lee, making the score 10-1.
In the fourth Lee’s sacrifice fly made it 11-1, and then both Stolley and Gonzalez scored on the same wild pitch for a 13-1 lead. With the outcome settled, Anchondo came on to try to finish off the mercy-rule in the fifth but was victimized by his own wildness and two Demon errors as Battle Mountain scored four times despite getting just one hit., a single by Dalton Patterson, the league’s leading hitter.
It didn’t take the Glenwood hitters long to bring the game to an end. Nieslanik led off the last of the fifth with an infield single, followed by a wild pitch and Anchondo’s run-scoring hit to center. That brought Patterson to the mound, where a walk, sacrifice bunt by Stolley, and a booming double to the fence by Gonzalez reapplied the mercy rule for the 15-5 finish.
In the first inning, game two looked to be a pitchers’ duel between Nieslanik and Elijah Morales, who retired the Demons in order on 13 pitches. But Battle Mountain broke through in the second on a double by Garrett Anderson, Morales’ single, stolen base, and two errors, giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead. Morales actually batted out of order, which would have negated both runs had the Demons’ caught the mistake, but once the next pitch was made, it was too late to protest.
No matter, a single by Tyler Dollahan, the only Demon without a hit in game one, then his subsequent stealing of second and third, and a wild pitch got one run back. In the third, Morales wild-pitched home three more runs, totally losing command with three walks and a hit batsman before being replaced by Jack Oberley. Kai Kanzer doubled home a run and scored on a two-base throwing error to put Glenwood ahead, 6-2.
Nieslanik allowed singles, but nothing else in the third and fourth and was supported by tremendous infield plays around the horn, Kanzer, Gonzalez, Anchondo, and Lee all sparkling on defense. The Demons added solo tallies in the fourth and fifth on sacrifice flies from Dollahan and Anchondo.
The sophomore Nieslanik capped his day with a 1-2-3 fifth, with Lee replacing him in the sixth. Reilly led off with a long double to center but Gonzalez’ relay from Stolley nailed the runner trying for third. After that, Lee retired five of the last six Huskies, Stolley making a running, one-handed catch of Morales’ liner to right center putting an exclamation point on a sterling, defensive day for the Demons.
Anchondo, Gonzalez, and Nieslanik each scored a total of four runs in the doubleheader, Nieslanik leading the Demons with 4 base hits in six at bats. Gonzalea, Lee, Stolley, and Kanzer each added three hits with Lee and Anchondo both driving in three runs.
Gonzalez (1-2) picked up his first win of the season in three decisions, while Nieslanik squared his record at 2-2. The Demons face a tough road challenge this Saturday when they take on the 3-1 Rifle Bears (8-3 overall) in a doubleheader to decide undefeated Palisade’s (11-5, 7-0) challenger for the WSL crown.