Moffat County baseball claims two wins Saturday vs. Aspen
The Moffat County High School baseball team doubled up on wins Saturday in its first two home games, 9-2 and 6-5, against Aspen.
The squad opened its season Friday with a meet-up in Montrose with 4A school Eagle Valley that coach Justin Folley said unfortunately “looked like the first game” of the year as players found themselves on the negative side of a 15-2 tally.
Folley and fellow coaches Keith Gille and Kulen Turner were ready to see their boys switch things up on their own field, and they did not disappoint, gaining an early lead and then adding four runs in the fifth inning and three in the sixth with the Skiers yet to cross the plate once, though Aspen was able to drive in a couple in the seventh before the Bulldogs finished it for good.
Phillip Chadwick claimed three strikeouts piching through two innings of the first game, while Josh Turner took down four batters throughout the following five.
At bat, Chadwick hit three doubles and had two runs batted in, and Brett Loyd had three RBI’s, one off a bean ball, the others from a single and a triple.
Loyd took the mound for the later game, seven straight strikes and an easy forced out at first giving the Moffat County dugout a reason to cheer. Aspen made it to the scoreboard in the second inning, but a passed ball called against the Skiers gave the Bulldogs the automatic run as Hunter Roberts strode in from third, followed soon after by Colby Beckett stealing home to make it 2-1.
Aspen tied it up in the third, but it wasn’t until a tumultuous fifth inning when Skier Tristan Niskenin smashed one out of the park with two runners on base to bring the score to 5-2 and give the Bulldogs some doubts, though Folley was not stymied.
“This is going to show what kind of team you are,” he said to his players as they gathered around him. “Battle! Challenge! Decide what kind of team you are and be it!”
The pep talk led to an exhilarating MCHS rally, helped along by a balk by pitcher Jamison Fuentes that sent Josh Turner in for the 5-3 score.
Chadwick crossed the plate off a single by Loyd batting cleanup, who, after one stolen base and a single by Hugh Turner, brought it to five-all.
Hugh Turner went in to pitch the last two innings as Loyd slipped on the catcher’s mask, but the pair worked even better in tandem at the bottom of the seventh as Loyd gained a triple-bagger sent into center field and barely had time to catch his breath before getting his ticket home off another single by his replacement pitcher.
“I was just glad Hugh hit it,” Loyd said of the final run.
The follow-up portion of the doubleheader was closer than Folley would have liked, but he credited Aspen with a good game, particularly Fuentes, a southpaw freshman who struck out six Moffat County batters, pitching the entire game.
“Lefties are always tough, but the kid threw strikes, over 100 pitches, which is a lot for a young kid,” Folley said of Fuentes.
Loyd notched seven strikeouts and Hugh Turner one.
“We should’ve come out more fired up than we did in the second game because we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll just beat them right through,’ but they put some runs on us, and they made us battle,” Loyd said.
For Loyd, one word sums up his plans for the rest of the season.
“Winning,” he said with a grin.
MCHS is 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the 3A Western Slope League, returning to Montrose for another Saturday doubleheader, this time with snowbound Gunnison. The Bulldogs will be on the road for nearly a month with games in Olathe and Rangely before hosting Rifle April 11.
The team’s mindset is closer to where it needs to be after the Aspen games, Folley said, taking heart in the group’s ability to come back and not let themselves be defeated by their own negativity.
“If we’re down in a game, we still play 100 percent,” he said.
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