Devils’ hurlers dominant in doubleheader
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” On what was an already cold and windy Saturday afternoon, Eagle Valley’s pitching staff dropped the mercury and stiffened the wind sock.
In a doubleheader sweep (4-0, 8-2) against Glenwood in Gypsum, the Devils’ hurlers iced the Demons at the plate with a combined 24 strikeouts. Eagle Valley starting pitchers Hunter Blevins and Dan McKiernan retired nine and 10 Glenwood batter, respectively. And when Eagle Valley skipper Ken Reagan went to his relievers in the seventh of both games, they kept the whiffs coming; Paul Suther closed the first game by striking out the side and Jack Barbella punched out two Demons in the nightcap.
“Pitching wise, we couldn’t have done much better,” Reagan said. “Four guys came in and four guys threw pretty good.”
In his two-hitter, Blevins, only allowed one runner to reach second base.
“He was just fantastic,” said Glenwood manager Eric Nieslanik. “He did a great job mixing it up. He had command and a lot of poise. He had us unbalanced and we couldn’t crack him. When we did get the bat on the ball, they made some great plays.”
Eagle Valley had some trouble solving Glenwood pitcher Patrick Harley in the opener, but the Devils put a run on the board in the third, and another in the fourth before adding a pair in the fifth.
“It’s a sigh of relief when you go out there in the fifth or sixth inning and you have a couple runs on them,” said Blevins, who struck out the first five batters he faced.
Eagle Valley outfielder Ryan McClintock scored the first a run on a hard-hit ball by Nick Whitehead that Glenwood’s Matt Seaver couldn’t handle. McKiernan opened the fourth with a gap single, and scored when catcher Willie Williamson reached on an error. After Eagle Valley infielder Aaron Hakes reached on an error in the fifth,
McClintock doubled to score Hakes, then crossed the plate on a fielders choice.
The Devils were nearly perfect defensively, with Barbella and Hakes grabbing some sharp grounders and McKiernan scooping up any errant throws at first.
“Our infield was solid,” Blevins said. “Nothing got through there.”
In the nightcap, Reagan called on the lefty McKiernan, who picked up right where his fellow pitchers left off in the opener. McKiernan mixed his pitches, and found the strike zone with easy nearly all game. The Demons were able to rally with two outs in the sixth and break the shutout on a two-run single.
Williamson, who caught both games, thought all the pitchers did a good job painting the strike zone.
“Location,” he said. “They were hitting their spots.”
The Devils found a bit more success at the place in the second game, especially in clutch situations. With the bases loaded in the fourth, Blevins dropped a deep fly into the left field corner that cleared the bases. (Blevins was on his way to third, and would have likely made it in safe, when he realize the lead runner at third, Whitehead, stopped, which sent him sliding back into second. Whitehead then took off as the Demons unsuccessfully tried to catch Blevins at second).
In the seventh, Eagle Valley’s Cody Coulter drove in two with a bases-loaded single.
“We had two times where we had timely hitting and scored almost all our runs,” Reagan said.
Suther, who scored the final run for the Devils on a passed ball, reached base on all four of his plate appearances in the nightcap.
With the win, the Devils improve to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the 4A Western Slope.
“It’s got us fired up, but we have to wake our bats up and get back into it,” Williamson said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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