Moffat County baseball closes home opener with win in 5 innings
Though it came later in the season than the Bulldogs were expecting, the Moffat County baseball team’s first home game was worth the wait.
The Bulldogs showed whose house it was Saturday afternoon, April 22, with a 14-4 win over Olathe. Though the home opener was more than a month in the making, it flew by as the Dogs ended it via mercy rule in five innings.
The Pirates took MoCo by surprise with Olathe earning three runs quickly. Nevertheless, the Dogs were back in business with five of their own before the second inning began, and Moffat County held the advantage for the rest of the game.
Coach James Romansky said the slow start wasn’t exactly new, though he was confident players could close the gap.
“It’s been our MO this year to kind of start rocky and then find it,” he said. “We want to start off strong so we can put it away early.”
Senior Cort Murphy echoed the idea that good hitting on their part would allow the Dogs to make up for any lapses.
“You put the ball in play, let other teams make mistakes, and when they do, you’ve gotta capitalize on those,” he said.
Senior Marcos Romero started the day on the mound — his first time pitching this season — before being relieved late in the game by junior Riley Thompson.
“It’s a good one to cut your teeth on, and he threw a lot of strikes,” Romasnky said of Romero. “Then Thompson came in and had a little more pepper.”
Romero had a stronger showing on offense, belting both a triple and a double. The former was a long fly ball nearly to the fence, though he didn’t risk trying to make it all the way home in one play.
“I don’t know if I’m really that fast to make that happen,” Romero said with a laugh.
The first competition on the home diamond brought up the whole team’s energy, he added. Getting the spot in playing shape took heavy equipment and elbow grease by both parents and players.
“It feels great. I love it here,” Romero said. “We were coming here on Sundays and working on it for two or three weeks.”
As quick as the game was, the Dogs had a chance to wrap it up even earlier with the score at 13-4 in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs and the bases loaded, the pressure was on for both Olathe’s pitcher and the Dogs’ cleanup hitter, senior Easton Eckroth.
After a productive day at the plate, Eckroth was swinging big left and right with five fouls and a full count before the Pirates managed to close the inning with a K.
“He was hoping to get that one, and everybody wants to see him swing like that,” Romansky said. “He fought for a long time and gave us a chance.”
Bulldogs were back at bat in no time, with a crucial strategy play getting senior Casey Schulder on base, largely thanks to a forced throwing error for Olathe.
“Schulder listened to me and tried to push-bunt, got a little on top of it and kept it near the catcher,” Romansky said. “When you put pressure on them, good things happen.”
Between stolen bases and a single by Thompson, Schulder quickly crossed the plate to end the day.
The matchup with Olathe was a turnaround from earlier in the week; Tuesday saw the Bulldogs in Basalt, experiencing a 13-2 loss to the Longhorns, largely from a string of flubs.
“Just a lot of soft contact that we didn’t play a lot of defense on,” Romansky said. “Guys would hit a ground ball, underthrow. Ground ball, overthrow.”
Romansky noted that it’s been difficult to predict which teams in the conference will give them the most trouble.
“Western Slope is weird. It’s the first league I’ve ever seen where you can have a team be dominant for exactly one year and then the next year, they’re shaky,” he said. “Every year has played different, every year there’s somebody else on top. Makes for an interesting league.”
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