Big hits help boost Moffat County baseball in tight home games
Moffat County baseball saw some of its best games of the season this week with a succession of three home games on Monday and Tuesday.
The Dogs faced off with the Coal Ridge on Monday in a rescheduled event from the week prior. After missing some field time due to wet weather, MoCo took a 21-1 beating in Delta on April 28.
But, the Bulldogs looked like a whole different team against the Titans when they came back to Craig. Both Coal Ridge and Delta are top 10 teams as ranked by CHSAA polls, yet the Titans are one of only two undefeated 3A teams in the state.
The Bulldogs were undeterred against the 3A Western Slope League leader, with MoCo the first to score and maintaining a 4-2 lead after four innings.
Coal Ridge took control in the top of the fifth, but the Dogs answered back as senior Easton Eckroth smacked his second home run of the season.
“He just gave me a really good pitch, and you’ve gotta take advantage of what you can get,” Eckroth said. “As a formal hitter, I don’t see many fastballs. When he throws me that, I try to jump on it.”
Easton Briggs saw Eckroth’s feat and built on it an inning later, bringing fellow senior Marcos Romero and himself across the plate with his own homer, his first of the spring. Briggs echoed Eckroth’s sentiments that the feat wasn’t exactly planned.
“It’s not what I’m trying to do, just get a base hit,” Briggs said. “I just put it where the ball’s pitched.”
Crucial defensive plays helped keep the Titans from doing much more. Sophomore Marek Marshall closed out the top of the seventh with a much-needed catch of an infield fly that was trickier than he thought.
“That one was scary, because it shifted, but at least I got it,” he said.
With two batters thrown out at first and another striking out in their final opportunity for a rally, the Bulldogs couldn’t close with the win, but the 10-8 loss was still a positive for coach James Romansky.
“With Coal Ridge, they played really, really good ball, and it woke us up to the fact that we can play,” he said. “It’s not an issue if guys score early; it’s an issue if we’re down. It’s not a measure of if we can’t make the plays; it’s how long can we mentally stay in a baseball game.”
The Dogs were right back at it the following day with a doubleheader against Meeker, and with eight hits in the first game, Moffat secured a 4-2 win. Half of those were doubles courtesy of Eckroth, Romero, senior Casey Schulder and junior Zaylan Kirby.
Starting pitcher Schulder recorded eight strikeouts and closer Cort Murphy had two. Marshall noted that the energy against the Cowboys was right where it had been the previous day.
“It stayed the same as yesterday, and we’re going against a good team, but we’ve got better pitchers,” he said.
MoCo caught fire in the latter half of the Tuesday series and held a 6-0 lead after two innings, helped along by another home run by Briggs.
“Long ball is not what we preach. We’re more of a line drive, doubles and triples kind of team,” Romansky said. “They don’t look for home runs, they just put the ball in play and good things happen. When home runs happen, it’s because we’re not seeking them. They happen because our mechanics are good.”
A lightning delay in the top of the fourth had both teams in a half-hour holding pattern, and the Cowboys caught a break with four runs in the inning once they returned to the field.
“It affects both teams for sure,” Romansky said of the delay. “They had a guy on first and third, so a delay isn’t in their favor either, but arguably, with no outs there’s more pressure on us to get out of that situation.”
Moffat County kept the Cowboys at bay from there — apart from a Meeker homer just before the close — and walked away with a 7-6 win.
On the mound, Briggs struck out five and Murphy six as they split pitching duties.
“They brought it today even with some hiccups and weather, they didn’t taper off,” Romansky said. “That’s the baseball we’re capable of; we make the routine, we make the great plays and do everything in between. We hit the ball well, and we’re really starting to click.”
Now 8-7 overall and 3-4 in the 3A WSL, the Bulldogs are staying in the playoff conversation, standing 31st in the RPI count as of Wednesday.
This weekend sees them face Roaring Fork on the road before their final home games, another doubleheader on May 9 with regional rival Steamboat Springs, a series that will serve as senior night.
Following that, MoCo will still have four more away games, and each win will be crucial to maintain or advance the postseason standing.
With Roaring Fork likely the biggest challenge they’ll face to complete the schedule, Eckroth said he’s not daunted by anyone’s record. “It doesn’t really matter how good they are,” he said. “You just gotta come out and then move on to the next. There’s no days off, for sure.”
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