Playoff hopes still alive for Moffat County baseball
Varsity seeks three straight wins for postseason; JV splits Thursday doubleheader
May 5, 2016
With less than one week to play, Moffat County High School baseball is hoping to stretch its final seven innings of the regular season into a playoff bid.
The Bulldogs currently stand tied at fifth place in the 3A Western Slope League following Tuesday's 9-1 win against Grand Valley, a road victory that showed how well the varsity team can rally given the chance.
Coach Justin Folley said the Cardinals provided a close match for the boys in blue, keeping it tied at 1-1 up until the sixth inning.
A home run by Brett Loyd was the catalyst to put the Dogs on top and keep it going from there.
"Our bats were quiet, and then Loyd got it rolling and we got seven runs in the sixth inning," Folley said. "Everyone started hitting, and we just went around."
Likewise, brothers Josh and Spencer Turner "did a great job" keeping the Cardinals to a single run while pitching, the coach added.
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While the varsity schedule continues, Moffat County JV finished its slate altogether Thursday, taking a win and a loss to Coal Ridge. The younger Bulldogs hosted the Titans, earning a 6-4 victory to start the doubleheader and finishing with a 12-9 defeat, extending the second game considerably by capitalizing on Coal Ridge errors that allowed them to tally six runs in the final inning.
JV finished with a record of 3-4, and players including
Jefferson Piatt, Dalton Greenwood and Wyatt Nielsen will continue with varsity.
At this point in the season, every win counts more than ever as Moffat County stands in a precarious position for the postseason, which allows the top four teams of the WSL to move to the next round.
While the top three slots are locked up by Gunnison, Coal Ridge and Olathe, No. 4 is still open for MCHS, Basalt or Aspen.
The Longhorns hold the slight lead at 5-7 in the conference, while the Bulldogs and Skiers are each 4-7, Basalt besting Aspen in a Wednesday game.
Saturday will see all Western Slope teams play doubleheaders, including Gunnison and Coal Ridge battling for the league title in New Castle, Basalt traveling to Olathe and Aspen visiting Grand Valley.
Meanwhile, Moffat County has the home field advantage for its remaining games, hosting Roaring Fork for a pair this weekend. Though the Rams are out of the running for the playoffs, they have continually come within one or two runs of the teams they have faced.
Doubleheaders have been tricky for the Bulldogs, as well, and the Dogs have yet to claim a sweep in any of the two-game afternoons they've played.
"A lot of it comes down to focus," Folley said. "We're a team that works off momentum, and if we don't have it, we struggle. If the other team comes out hungry like they should after a loss, we kind of get behind, lose momentum, and it's hard to get it back."
The league's schedule will finish, in its entirety, Monday as Aspen comes to Craig for a game rescheduled from April 28.
Taking three straight wins will be the best-case scenario for MCHS and Aspen, or two wins in Basalt's instance.
The Longhorns will need to sweep the Pirates to stay in front, while the pressure is also on for both Moffat County and Aspen to complete the weekend with two victories. A three-way tie of 7-7 among the trio's WSL tallies would be impossible, but each school could finish 6-8. Should the Bulldogs sweep Roaring Fork but fall to Aspen, the Skiers could count themselves playoff-bound provided they also dominate the Cardinals and Basalt takes at least one loss to Olathe.
Should the Dogs split with Roaring Fork but beat Aspen and things wind up tied, a count of the season's runs for and against each team would be taken into consideration due to all three teams being 1-1 head to head, pending a Bulldog win Monday.
Rankings on MaxPreps show Basalt leads the three teams in runs scored league or overall — a count of 79 and 103, respectively — but Moffat County has the fewest runs scored against them with 82 against league opponents and 107 total.
Plus, the upcoming games could change the ratios quite a bit, Folley said.
"It could be tight," he said.
Winning each game and claiming the playoff spot would send the Dogs into the second season at 8-9 overall, and Folley estimates they'd be seeded 26th or 27th among the 32 teams in the brackets.
"It's tough to tell where we'd be sitting," he said. "We're looking at one game at a time, get through each inning and go through everyone like we need to."
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.