Although the results weren’t quite what he hoped for, American Legion Post 62 pitcher/first baseman Ivan Nielsen was happy with how the Bulldogs played Saturday.
The team was swept, 14-9 and 8-7, by the visiting Rio Blanco Panthers at Craig Middle School, but Nielsen, who will be a junior in the fall, said things are looking up for the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t do too bad,” he said. “I thought the defense looked pretty good.”
Saturday’s games were the first of the summer for the Bulldogs (0-2 overall), and as expected going in, the young team struggled.
Nielsen and Carlos Maldonado are the only upperclassmen on the team.
Being an elder statesman is new for Nielsen, but it’s a role he said he looks forward to.
“It’s fun because we don’t have any older guys,” he said. “I have to be a leader now. I have to yell and get our guys into the game.”
In the first game, Rio Blanco scored first, with two runs in the top of the second inning.
Moffat County tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third, then took a 5-3 lead after five innings.
But, Rio Blanco didn’t go away.
The Panthers scored four runs in the top of the sixth to take a 7-5 lead only to watch as the Bulldogs scored four of their own in the bottom of the inning to lead, 9-7.
The Panthers rallied in the seventh with seven runs to take the lead for good.
The second game saw the Bulldogs assume the role of visiting team, and take advantage, with one run in the top of the first.
The Panthers scored three in the bottom of the first, in what would be another back-and-forth contest.
Moffat County took the lead in the third inning, 4-3, only to have the Panthers reclaim it in the bottom of the third, 6-4, and lose it, 7-6, in the fourth.
The Panthers tied it, 7-7 in the fifth, and scored a walk-off base hit in the seventh.
Nielsen said the Moffat County High School baseball team’s biggest problem — scoring runs late in ballgames — appears to have carried over into the summer.
“That was one of our biggest problems during the year,” Nielsen said. “We can score early, but we can’t score later in the game.”
The team was not without standout performances, however.
Ivers went 6 for 6 in the two games, with two runs, two RBI and three walks.
Junior Carlos Maldonado scored six runs in the two contests, and walked four times.
Sophomore Zach Booco scored four runs and added a triple in the first game, and Nielsen knocked in five RBI in the two games.
But, being able to play as a team for the first time made it all worth it, Nielsen said.
“It’s good to have opening day again,” he said. “I was excited to see what our young guys could do out there.”