Moffat County baseball sweeps Aspen in home opener |

Moffat County baseball sweeps Aspen in home opener

From left, Moffat County seniors Derrick Squires, Carson Miller, Ryan Peck and Daniel Running gather with coaches Michael Portillo, Brian Jennings and James Romansky. The Bulldogs defeated Aspen in two games Saturday in Craig.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press

It happened a little later than they’d have liked, but the first home event for Moffat County High School baseball was no doubt a successful one.

MCHS claimed dual victories Saturday in a doubleheader against the Aspen Skiers with 9-8 and 15-2 wins against the 3A Western Slope League opponents.

With three harsh losses in the same week — falling 23-12 and 18-0 against Gunnison, and then 16-10 against Eagle Valley — the Skiers were eager to stop their slide and almost got it done in the late innings in the first of their two games in Craig.

Despite earning two runs early on, the Skiers weren’t having much luck for a long stretch as the Bulldogs starting pitcher, senior Derrick Squires, claimed 10 strikeouts.

Conversely, the Dogs racked up 10 hits in that time, as well as plenty of walks and stolen bases, holding an 8-2 lead after four innings.

Aspen seized on errors in the top of the fifth to get two more runs on the board, while a change on the mound in the seventh let the Skiers gain some momentum as they loaded the bases repeatedly.

Still, senior closer Daniel Running had the last laugh with a strikeout to shut down the game.

As narrow as the first game got, MCHS didn’t make the same mistakes in the latter half of the day. Nearly the entire Bulldog lineup crossed home plate in the second inning courtesy of some heavy hitting, leading 10-1 heading into the third to foreshadow the early, mercy rule ending that would come after five innings.

Moffat County's Derrick Squires connects with an Aspen fastball on Saturday during a doubleheader in Craig.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press

All told, Running led with five hits, Squires had four and seniors Ryan Peck, Carson Miller and juniors Easton Eckroth and Casey Schulder added three hits apiece across the two games.

Squires notched six RBIs thanks to two doubles and a triple to add to his slugging statistics, while Miller drove in six runs with a double, two singles and two sacrifice flies.

After seeing Ryan Peck slam a triple, double and single in the first game, Aspen opted for an intentional walk of the Bulldog senior more than once in the next round.

Besides quantity in output, MCHS head coach Brian Jennings said the quality of hits was encouraging.

“We’ve been preaching all week about staying back on the ball, letting it travel farther and hitting it up the middle to right field. They did that really well,” he said. “They struck the ball really hard because they were waiting for those pitches. I thanked them all for making those adjustments we’ve been asking for and trusting in the process.”

Peck and Miller also combined for five strikeouts in the second game. Miller first pitched during a game against Battle Mountain and felt all the more confident this time.

“As a team, we’ve got all the parts and now we’re just putting them together,” he said. “Just hope we can keep winning and keep our streak going.”

MCHS will next face Gunnison this Friday on a neutral field in Rifle.

Despite challenging the Bulldogs for the league title last season and also earning a better playoff seed, the Cowboys’ schedule is playing out differently this year. The same day MoCo was sweeping the Skiers, Gunnison was humbled in their own home opener with defeats of 16-10 and 22-4 to Basalt.

“I know they’re a lot younger since they’ve lost a lot of seniors, it sounds like they have eight freshmen starting,” Jennings said of the Cowboys. “They have a lot of promise and they’ll be tough over the next four years.”

Moffat County's Casey Schulder dives into third base against Aspen.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press
Moffat County’s Carson Miller winds up before delivering a pitch against Aspen.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press
Moffat County’s Easton Eckroth looks to score as he rounds third base against Aspen.
Andy Bockelman/For Craig Press
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