Behind McKiernan’s arm and bat, Devils earn split | VailDaily.com
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Behind McKiernan’s arm and bat, Devils earn split

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
EVB Dan McKiernan PU 4-12-08
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GYPSUM, Colorado ” Following his team’s past few wins, Eagle Valley skipper Ken Reagan talked about the need for his guys to get the bats moving early and in key situations.

Reagan’s wishes came to fruition, albeit a little later than he would have liked, in a doubleheader spilt Saturday against Delta in Gypsum.

Delta jumped to an early 4-0 lead in the opener and held on for a 5-3 win, while the Devils came back to take the nightcap, 8-7, thanks to some solid pitching and hitting by Dan McKiernan.

“It took us a while to get our bats going (in the opener),” Reagan said. “That’s one thing we’ve struggled with in league play so far. We’ve got to hit the ball earlier. We did a great job of getting on (Delta pitcher) Luke Schmalz in the second game. That’s why we won. We jumped on them right away.”

Like Delta did in the first game, Eagle Valley scored three runs in the top of the first ” the Devils were the away team in the second game ” and then knocked in three of their final five runs with two outs.

“There were a lot of good things. We stole a base here and there, got guys on second, then we’d double and score. You’ve got to have that every game,” Reagan said.

McKiernan, who came in to pitch the final two innings of Game 1, relieved teammate Paul Suther in the third inning of Game 2. After the teams traded leads in the middle of the game, Eagle Valley pulled out to an 8-6 lead in the top of the sixth. McKiernan retired the side in the sixth but gave up a leadoff homer to Victor Tatman to start the seventh.

“That ball just carried and carried, and from there, my heart started pounding right away,” McKiernan said. “I just had to stay strong and throw it over the plate.”

McKiernan struck out the next batter looking, then gave up a double to Preston Boyd, who pitched the final three innings for Delta, fanning six Devils. Suther, who moved to first base in the third inning, fielded a ground ball for the second out, and McKiernan got the final batter to pop one up, which second baseman Robert Padgett easily caught.

“We needed that,” McKiernan said of the win. “That’s what we need to do all the time from now on. We need to jump on it early every game.”

The Devils (6-3 in the 4A Western Slope, 9-3 overall) and Panthers (same record) are two teams looking to move into the No. 2 spot in the league behind first-place Palisade.

Reagan had no reservations about letting McKiernan come back in for five innings.

“He can pitch nine innings. He’s got a rubber arm,” Reagan said.

McKiernan had great control and velocity through the final batter; he finished the day with eight strikeouts, six coming in the second game.

“I’d use curves and the outside fastball, but then I’d switch it up because they’d be catching on to the fastball, so I’d start with a curve,” McKiernan said.

McKiernan helped secure the win from the plate, going 2-for-3 and batting in three. Eagle Valley outfielder Nick Whitehead drove in a pair of runs, including one on a two-out triple in the third. Devils leadoff hitter Cody Coulter had a phenomenal game, going 3-for-4 with a double, an infield single, a stolen base and two runs.

Padgett, who reached on a a two-out single to short right in the third, used his speed and an infield single by catcher Willie Williamson to score in the third. With Padgett taking a big lead from first, Schmalz made a pickoff move, but Padgett took off to second. A rushed throw bounced into the outfield, and Padgett jetted to third.

Eagle Valley shortstop Jack Barbella ruled the infield with a vacuum-like glove. Barbella had several tough put outs, but his most impressive came in the sixth inning. McKiernan deflected a hard-hit comebacker, which then bounced toward second base. Barbella stormed in, scooped up the ball and made a solid throw across his body to first.

“He was unbelievable,” Reagan said. “He’s one of the best shortstops and he’s a sophomore.”

Coulter, Whitehead and Ryan McClintock were solid in the outfield, catching balls on the run and eliminating potential sac fly situations with speed and positioning.

In the opener, Eagle Valley scored all of its runs in the fourth, with Ryan McClintock and Aaron Hakes each driving in one. The Devils put two runners on with one out in the seventh, but Delta pitcher David Henrie closed things out with a fielders choice and whiff for the complete game win.

After a shaky start, Eagle Valley starter Hunter Blevins shut the door on Delta, striking out 11, including the side in the third and fifth innings.

Eagle Valley is scheduled for a doubleheader against Steamboat in Moffat County Wednesday.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com

McKiernan helped secure the win from the plate, going 2-for-3 and batting in three. Eagle Valley outfielder Nick Whitehead drove in a pair of runs, including one on a two-out triple in the third. Devils leadoff hitter Cody Coulter had a phenomenal game, going 3-for-4 with a double, an infield single, a stolen base and two runs.

Padgett, who reached on a a two-out single to short right in the third, used his speed and an infield single by catcher Willie Williamson to score in the third. With Padgett taking a big lead from first, Schmalz made a pickoff move, but Padgett took off to second. A rushed throw bounced into the outfield, and Padgett jetted to third.

Eagle Valley shortstop Jack Barbella ruled the infield with a vacuum-like glove. Barbella had several tough put outs, but his most impressive came in the sixth inning. McKiernan deflected a hard-hit comebacker, which then bounced toward second base. Barbella stormed in, scooped up the ball and made a solid throw across his body to first.

“He was unbelievable,” Reagan said. “He’s one of the best shortstops and he’s a sophomore.”

Coulter, Whitehead and Ryan McClintock were solid in the outfield, catching balls on the run and eliminating potential sac fly situations with speed and positioning.

In the opener, Eagle Valley scored all of its runs in the fourth, with Ryan McClintock and Aaron Hakes each driving in one. The Devils put two runners on with one out in the seventh, but Delta pitcher David Henrie closed things out with a fielders choice and whiff for the complete game win.

After a shaky start, Eagle Valley starter Hunter Blevins shut the door on Delta, striking out 11, including the side in the third and fifth innings.

Eagle Valley is scheduled for a doubleheader against Steamboat in Moffat County Wednesday.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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