PALISADE (4/12/14) – “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Glenwood baseball coach Eric Nieslanik said after his team rallied twice to hand Palisade its first league loss of the season, 14-9 in the first game of a doubleheader. The Demons dropped the second game, 15-5, but even that loss reflected the growth of this team that was outscored 50-1 by the Bulldogs in a twin bill last year.

Glenwood took a 1-0 first-inning lead of game one, but Palisade batted through the lineup against Chase Nieslanik, using a walk, a hit batsman, and 4 hits to go ahead 4-1. The junior lefty was having trouble getting his sharp-breaking curve ball over all afternoon, giving up 12 hits and 9 runs in 7 innings, as opposed to just 9 hits and two earned runs in his last three outings, covering 17 innings.

“We just kept battling and battling,” Nieslanik said. “This was fun.” Luke Ray started the first comeback with a leadoff double in the third, scoring on Kiefer Brocker’s two-base. Ian Scruton, Chris Sarabia, and Tristan Harris followed with singles, and Nieslanik belted a 2-run double to make it six straight hits off starter Kurtis Grady and Glenwood lead 7-4.

Tass Crow and Grady hit back-to-back doubles for a run, but Nieslanik pitched out of 1st-and-3rd trouble, and singles by Isaac Lae and Brocker led to two more runs in the top of the sixth for a 9-5 advantage. The last run came when Brocker smacked into the substantial frame of Bulldog catcher Andrew Bowles, who failed to make the tag.

Bowles got a measure of revenge with a 2-run double in the home half as Nieslanik’s pitch count topped 115, with a 9-7 lead. Harris, the Demons’ other starter was unable to pitch due to back spasms, though he still managed to play first base and get 3 hits. However, that meant coach Nieslanik had to preserve his bullpen for a likely, “pitcher-by-committee” second game.

So Nieslanik came out to pitch the last of the 7th, nursing that two-run lead. Crow led off with a single, but Grady popped up and a strikeout left Glenwood an out away from its first win over Palisade in several years.

However, Bobby DeSantis, who was 5-for-6 in the doubleheader, raising his average from .240 to .355, singled, putting the tying runs on base. Hoping for one more out, Nieslanik faced pinch hitter Matt Seriani, whose singled scored Crow and moved De Santis to 3rd. A walk loaded the bases, and Troy Levinson pulled a bouncer that seemed headed for right field and victory for Palisade.

Harris made a diving stop, but Nieslanik was late getting to first, the throw was high and the runner was safe, the tying run scoring. On his 137th pitch, Nieslanik got Bowles to pop up, sending Glenwood into extra innings for the second straight game. Nieslanik had made 106 pitches at Rifle on Tuesday, leaving with the game tied before the Bears won in 8, 6-5.

This time, his teammates rewarded the junior lefty’s effort, when Ray’s leadoff double in the 8th brought the hard-throwing Crow to the mound, only to take the lead on Brocker’s double and go on to add 4 insurance runs.

Ian Scruton came in to hold the lead and set the Bulldogs down 1-2-3 to finish the 3-hour, 317 pitch (combined) contest. Nieslanik improved to 3-1 with the win.

Luke Ray, whose only other start came in the season-opening 14-0 loss to Steamboat Springs, walked 5 and hit a batter in the first inning of game-two, and by the third inning was behind 5-0. After making 45 pitches in the first inning and 77 after three, Ray had a 5 pitch-4th, and the Demons, who had been shutout on 1-hit by Deven Lucero, put together four hits in the 5th, to close the gap to 5-3.

Ray, who had only pitched 7 innings all season, ran out of gas in the last of the 5th, yielding four hits, including a bases-loaded triple to Levinson that knocked him out of the game after 106 pitches. Scruton made his 2nd appearance in the double-dip, yielding 2 runs on a couple of hits but preventing Palisade from ending the game on the 10-run rule.

Trailing 12-3, Glenwood rallied again with Sarabia and Harris opening the 6th with singles and scored on grounders by Steve Romero and Law. There would be no furious finish this time as sophomore Kyle La Couture gave up 4 hits and 3 runs to end the game in the last of the 6th, Levinson driving home one and scoring the game-ending run.

The split drops Palisade (6-1, 8-4) to 2nd place and sets up a doubleheader next Friday at Rifle (6-3, 9-4). The Bears won two, 7-1 and 9-8 over Steamboat Springs (2-6, 5-6), Glenwood’s next opponent. The Demons (3-2, 6-4) will host the Sailors in a doubleheader next Saturday.