Big bats, bad gloves set tone for baseball

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The first at bats in the double header against Moffat County High School and Palisade set the tone in different ways for MCHS.

In game one, Palisade's leadoff hitter Mike Embrey reached base on an error by shortstop Jason Mosher. Moffat County went on to commit eight more errors and allow seven unearned runs in an 11-7 win for Palisade.

In the second game, Tad Behrens hit a two-run home run in the top of the first to put the blue and white up, 3-0. MoCo went on to hit four more home runs in the game -- including three in an eight-run third inning -- to get the 14-9 win.

After the Saturday afternoon twin billing, both coaches talked about how important the final games were in the regular season for their respective teams.

"The first game was a continuation of our loss to Rifle on Thursday," said MCHS coach Scott Parker. "We could have kept our heads down in the second game but came back to earn some momentum for the playoffs."

Including the first game of the double header, Moffat County had lost three consecutive and four of its last five. MCHS dropped out of contention for the Western Slope Conference title and finished in third behind Delta and Rifle.

The loss in the second game stung a little more for Palisade.

"With the loss, we have to rely on Steamboat to get a win against Glenwood Springs to put us in the playoffs," said Palisade coach Mike Krueger. "Steamboat has the talent to do it, but it would have been nice to do it ourselves."

Unfortunately for Palisade, Steamboat didn't have enough talent Saturday and Glenwood took both games, 9-8, 11-1. The Demons improved to 6-5 in the conference while the Bulldogs dropped to 6-6 and out of the playoffs.

While Palisade players were disappointed in the final result, they ended the first game with their heads high. They touched Moffat County High School pitcher Jerod Estey for a season-high 11 runs, with all but one player scoring a run. Seven of the runs were unearned but the visiting team put the ball in play more often that Estey had seen all year.

"Our non-conference schedule is against all 5A schools so they are used to guys like Estey," Krueger said. "We made contact and they put us on with some mistakes."

The nearly double digits in errors troubled Parker with it being so late in the season.

"We certainly can't give up that many unearned runs if we want to do well in the playoffs," he said.

In second game, Moffat County jumped out early to give more of a margin of error for its defense.

Mosher added to Behrens' home run total in the second to make the score 4-0.

In the third, the Moffat County bats started talking. Nick Goodenow hit his second home run of the day to lead off the inning, which was followed by singles from Behrens and Eric Bastow. Bugay cleared the bases with a 3-run shot. Joe Padon was hit by a pitch and Barrett White stroked a double to score Padon. White's double chased starter John Hakes from the game and Chris Frobom came in to relieve him. Mosher welcomed Frobom with an infield hit and Jerod Estey finished Frobom's day with a three-run blast that may have injured some elk on Black Mountain.

"They're used to playing on a smaller field so they hit the ball in the air more than we do," Krueger said. "Some of those home runs would have been fly ball outs on our field."

Regardless, they were out of the park at the Craig Middle School field and the third pitcher of the third inning, Ryan Dant, came in and stopped the flood of runs, but the damage was done with a 12-2 lead for MoCo.

Dant kept Moffat County in check, holding the team to two runs the rest of the game. John Bugay and Eric Bastow kept Palisade off the scoreboard just enough the rest of the game for a 14-9 win.

Moffat County finished the conference season 8-4 and will find out Wednesday where it will travel for the state playoffs. The district tournament consists of four teams and is a simple format. If a team wins two games it goes to the state tournament. If it loses once, its season is over. Those games will be on Saturday.

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