Close call

Bulldog baseball wins defensive struggle against Steamboat

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When Moffat County baseball has all four of its best pitchers fresh and available, coach Scott Parker doesn't mind if his team struggles from the plate too much.

"We relied on defense and pitching today," Parker said after his team's 4-1 victory against Steamboat Springs on Tuesday. "We hadn't played in nine days, so things were going to be rusty. It was good to get our pitchers some time again, and they stopped a good hitting team."

Senior Erik Griffin, junior Bryan Wojtkiewicz, sophomore Bryan Richards and senior Jared Lowther combined to give up five hits and one run in seven innings against the Sailors.

Sophomore Brad Grinstead provided the lone offensive spark for Moffat with a two-run homer in the second inning. The Bulldogs had nine hits but stranded eight runners.

"We need to relax and not think as much," said Grinstead, who finished 2-for-3. "I think we'll do better when we start playing more."

Part of Moffat's struggles was because of Steamboat pitcher Nick Leader.

"He was a lefty and he kept us off balance," Parker said. "He came out and did what they needed him to."

Leader relieved Zach Savage in the third after the Bulldogs scored three in the second off Savage.

The Sailors threatened in the third with runners at first and second with one out. Griffin earned a strikeout to give himself some breathing room.

Then a single into the outfield had Steamboat's Ben Montoya streaking for home. Moffat centerfielder Korey Kostur scooped up the single and fired the throw to home. The ball reached Bulldog catcher Reid Hanneman before Montoya, who couldn't avoid the tag.

"We had defense when we needed it tonight," Parker said. "Kostur and Hanneman did what they needed to do for us. That was a momentum changer."

Each team added runs in the sixth inning, but Steamboat couldn't rally against Lowther in the seventh.

"Moffat County basically just had to show up today to beat us," Steamboat coach Sean Hicks said.

"We were just guessing up there at the plate."

Hicks said that he thought Leader did a quality job throwing, but there were a few times when "he forgot there were people on base."

The coach also wasn't impressed by the atmosphere of the game.

"This used to be a game that everybody got up for," he said. "It wasn't that way today. I expected it to be a 10-9 or 9-8 game. The better team won today."

Moffat improved to 1-2 in the Western Slope League and 4-3 overall.

Steamboat is 2-3 in the WSL and 2-8 overall.

The Bulldogs have a doubleheader against Palisade on Saturday, and the Sailors have a doubleheader the same day against Glenwood Springs.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craig-daily-press.com.

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