GYPSUM — Eagle Valley baseball lost to Delta, 20-4, Monday on a cold and windy day down in Gypsum.
After a scoreless opening frame, the Panthers rallied for a four-run second inning by being patient at the plate and drawing four walks. Ethan Ellsworth, who started the game on the mound for the Devils, was dealing with the cold temperatures, windy conditions and even periodic snowfall.
Ellsworth wasn’t alone in dealing with the elements. There were many hands shaking uncontrollably after foul tips, and fielders seemed to be digging around for something in their pants pockets, presumably warmth.
“It’s just really unfortunate in the game of baseball,” Devils coach Jesse Meryhew said of the conditions. “There’s not much you can do.”
Freshman Garrett Martin, who came on in relief of Ellsworth in the third inning, had similar issues.
“The ball gets so stiff,” Martin said. “My shoulder and fingers get tight, and it’s hard to get a good grip on the ball.”
Despite struggling with the grip of the ball, Martin was able to throw strikes and had an effective breaking ball against the No. 1 Panthers.
“He’s going to be a real good pitcher for us,” Meryhew said of Martin. “He throws well and is a quality freshman.”
Martin got his first plate appearance of his high school career to lead off the third inning for Eagle Valley.
“First off, it’s a little bit dealing with nerves,” Martin said of stepping into the batter’s box. “And then I just got in there and stayed calm and relaxed at the plate and waited for a pitch to come.”
That pitch came, and it plunked the freshman in the leg.
“We always like that,” Meryhew said. “Guys will stay in there and get hit and get on base any way they can.”
Trailing 14-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Ellsworth ripped a three-run home run to the opposite field, scoring Slater Sabo and Eric Boyd, who added an RBI double in the fifth.
The Panthers came back in the top of the fifth and added six runs.
With the loss, the Devils (8-6-1, 6-4) fall to fourth place in the 4A Western Slope.
The top three teams make the playoffs, so Eagle Valley still has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Delta is comfortably atop the standings at 10-1, and Palisade sits in second at 9-3. Rifle (7-4) is third with three games remaining, while the Devils have four to go.
With sights set on the playoffs, Eagle Valley looks to get back on track at Battle Mountain on Thursday at 3 p.m.