Devils down Huskies in opener
GYPSUM – When the Eagle Valley baseball team puts guys on base, skipper Ken Reagan won’t wait for the runs.He’ll manufacture them as soon as possible.Eagle Valley moved out to an early 7-0 lead against Battle Mountain thanks to some aggressive offense, and just when the Huskies got things rolling at the plate, the Devils closed out the game, 12-2 in the fifth inning Tuesday at Gypsum.”That’s what I tell them – we’ve gotta jump on them,” Reagan said. “Battle Mountain hung in there at 7-1, 7-2 … so we have to put them away (earlier).”The Devils stole a dozen bases – seven in the first two innings – and knocked gap singles at the right time to drive them home.”It’s nice to have guys come up and hit,” Reagan said. “We had some guys come in and pinch hit in the last inning to manufacture runs, and that was nice.”Eagle Valley grabbed eight hits, all of them singles, while Alex Dorothy limited the Huskies to three hits and gave up one earned run.Battle Mountain, aside from some defensive lapses in two innings, held the Devils to two runs in the other three.”That’s kind of the way it’s been going all year for us,” said Huskies’ manager Jason Spannagel “We’ll play three or four good innings, then we’ll have one inning when we kick the ball around a bit and give up some runs.”Dorothy went the distance, throwing 73 pitches, while striking out seven and walking three.”I felt pretty good,” Dorothy said. “A lot of the time I was getting bad starts in the count – I’d start 1-0 and 2-0, and that’s one thing I really need to work on.”
Even after reaching on an error in the second inning and getting caught in a seemingly endless rundown, Dorothy came out the next half and pitched a smart inning.”I was tired after that,” Dorothy said of the rundown. “It was five turnarounds, sprinting.”Reagan was pleased with his hurler’s ball placement.”A great pitching performance from Alex,” Reagan said. “No matter who you are playing, you throw strikes.”Battle Mountain pitcher Zach Domenico got into his groove after the first two innings, and retired the side in the third and fourth on 22 pitches.”Once I kind of got it down in the zone, I was making it, and feeling really good,” Domenico said. “I was getting my curveball to curve into the zone and out of it when I wanted to.”Domenico whiffed two to close out the fourth.The five-six comboWhen the Huskies’ got a hold of the ball, Eagle Valley’s infield was there to make the play at first or get the lead runner.”They play a lot of baseball, so they know that kind of stuff,” Reagan said. “So it’s nice to get our fielding in there because we had a rough game against Delta (in a 15-5 loss) our last game.”
The Devils’ third baseman Hunter Blevins and shortstop Bear Barkman snagged several grounders and made solid throws for putouts.”Every body did what they needed to do,” Dorothy said. “They knew where the ball was going at all times.”Kevin Mansfield caught for Dorothy the first three innings, and then Nick Whitehead got behind the plate.”I think he did pretty well for not catching for two years or so,” Dorothy said of Whitehead.”That’s not what he told me, he said he caught all last year,'” Reagan said.Battle Mountain’s Mitch Hendrix got a break from his mound and catcher duties, and was the designated hitter. Spannagel opted for freshman R.D. Cordova behind the plate.”Mitch has been our most consistent player, pitching wise and catching, and he’s hitting the ball at a good clip, too,” Spannagel said.Hendrix ripped a double into the gap between the left and center fielder for an RBI in the top of the fifth, scoring Jeremy Windham, who reached on a fielder’s choice.The Huskies’ Chris Schmidt drove in Hendrix in the fourth on a single. With two on and one out in the inning, Whitehead made a great catch on a shallow pop up behind the plate, then Dorothy fanned one to end Battle Mountain’s scoring threat.”It was nice for us to string a couple of nice at bats together,” Spannagel said. “For a couple games we had a hit or two, but never actually got to break through and be an offensive threatening team. (Tuesday) we could have put a few more runs up if we ran the bases a little better. We’re still working.”
Seasoned batsDorothy led the Devils from the plate, going 2-for-2, driving in two, scoring two and stealing three bases. Blevins was equally proficient, brining home two on the game-ending two-run single that put the Devils up 10 runs after five innings. Blevins also scored one and stole a base. Barkman crossed home twice for Eagle Valley, while Whitehead batted in two and scored one.Reagan hopes his squad can get spread out run production a bit more.”I just want to see us coming out with our bats on fire innings at a time instead of an inning there and waiting a couple more then an inning there,” he said.Battled Mountain, which started four freshman, came alive in the later innings and could have seen another few at bats had it not been for a questionable infield fly call in the bottom of the fifth. “Our kids have done a really good job of not giving in even when they get down, they keep playing the game, which is a testament to them,” Spannagel said.With the win, Eagle Valley moves to 2-1 in the 4A Western Slope and 5-2 overall. The Devils head to Glenwood for a pair Thursday. Battle Mountain dropped to 0-5 in the Slope and 0-6 overall. The Huskies will be in Steamboat for a doubledip Thursday.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.