Moffat County baseball shakes off weekend loss to tackle midweek doubleheader |

Moffat County baseball shakes off weekend loss to tackle midweek doubleheader

Moffat County's Easton Eckroth holds Bulldog baseball's home run hammer during a 2022 game. Eckroth hit the first homer of the 2023 season Tuesday in a road win over North Fork.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The Moffat County baseball diamond is a work in progress, but the Bulldogs aren’t letting their limitations stop them.

The Bulldogs split a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon, April 11, in Hotchkiss with an 11-10 loss and a 14-4 win over North Fork.

The first half of the day was what counted for the 3A Western Slope League, and despite a 4-1 lead after three innings, MoCo started to falter, giving up six runs in the bottom of the fourth as the teams were even at 7.

Coach James Romansky started off senior Easton Eckroth followed by junior Zaylan Kirby and senior Easton Briggs on the mound.

“Pitching in that first game started off really well,” Romansky said. “They didn’t seem like they really wanted to hit off Eckroth. They didn’t adjust to his speed changes or curveballs, but they made the adjustment when we cycled in Kirby.”

With nine strikeouts among their pitchers, the Dogs led 10-8 in the seventh as the Miners refused to go down without a fight, collecting a lot of walks before a batter being hit by a pitch brought in North Fork’s winning run.

“Scoring 10 runs and having really good pitching up until the sixth inning, all those things are huge for a team that has spent only five or six days on grass,” Romansky said. “That shows they’re working hard, they’re out there to win.”

As close as the first round was, the Bulldogs controlled the flow of the second game, setting the tone early with the team’s first homer of the season, a two-run dinger by Eckroth.

“It was a no-doubter,” Romansky said of the hit. “I could tell before it was out of the infield.”

Eckroth added that he felt the moment was just right.

“I hit pretty well the whole day, but I was just waiting for a perfect pitch to take it like that,” he said.

With a nine-run rally in the fifth inning, MoCo ended the day early by mercy rule as the Bulldogs denied the Miners anything else on the scoreboard.

“We put constant pressure on them that second game,” Romansky said. “Basepaths, we ran a lot, we tested catchers and took timing off pitchers so that they get nervous and throw a ball that’s a little more hittable. That’s how the game works.”

Romansky added that while the first game meant more for the record, the latter meant more for morale.

“You always have to come back and show what you’re capable of in that second game,” he said. “It’s imperative that you tell the rest of the league and the rest of the state that when we go somewhere else, we’re not going to lie down, take two L’s and leave. We took that loss really hard, and it would have been really easy for a lesser team to crumble and say, ‘this is a wash, this game doesn’t matter.’ It really does; it helps RPI and helps everything going forward.”

With 24 runs across two matches, the North Fork games were a welcome return to form after Saturday’s non-league game against 4A Battle Mountain, which was much more of an offensive struggle.

The Huskies caught momentum in the second inning as 11 guys crossed the plate. MCHS athletes conversely could not drive anyone home, and Battle Mountain won 15-0 in four innings.

“It felt like we’d had a lot of cabin fever, and we were a little bit flat,” Romansky said.

The MoCo program is still seeing minimal use of its home field at Craig Middle School because it’s undergoing repairs.

“There were some pretty serious damages over the winter. We had it cleared a little too late,” Romansky said. “I tell the guys every day in practice, even if it’s a recovery practice, we have to work double or triple as hard as a lot of other teams in the league. They train through the amount of time they’re on the field, and we train through intensity on the field. That’s kind of the only way to do that is pack in the amount of good reps in a short amount of time.”

The Dogs’ true home opener is still in the works, but they will take the field this weekend at Grand Junction’s Canyon View for double duty against Aspen, which has also faced facility issues.

The two WSL foes will switch off home team status, though MoCo will have the advantage for the official league game.

“The other coaches in the league have been phenomenal with us. They reach out to me and the AD and say, ‘Hey, how we can still play and get things scheduled?'” Romansky said. “In the end, we’re all looking to do the same thing, we all have limited amounts of guys on the mound, a limited amount of arms to throw, and nobody likes their schedule to just be packed at the end.”

Since Moffat County baseball often sees different energy in the second half of the season, players and coaches are prepared to keep making things work.

“Just don’t let off, there’s no room for error,” Eckroth said. “We’ve got to keep winning to make it to the playoffs.”

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