Devils turn two against Bears
Vail, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado ” What Palisade baseball did to Eagle Valley last weekend, Eagle Valley did to Rifle on Saturday.
In a doubleheader, the Devils edged the Bears in the first game, 4-3, and then opened the floodgates in a 12-1 nightcap win.
“Last week was, ‘Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,'” said Eagle Valley skipper Ken Reagan, referring to the Devils’ 1-0 and 9-6 losses to Palisade.
Eagle Valley sent hurler Hunter Blevins to the mound in Saturday’s lidlifter, and unlike last week, when he pitched a gem and lost, 1-0, Blevins came up on the winning end of a pitchers’ duel.
Blevins went six innings, striking out six, walking one and surrendering five hits.
“His control was great,” Reagan said.
Reagan called on pitcher Jack Barbella to close out the game in the seventh with the Devils leading, 4-3, and the Bears’ leadoff hitter on base with no outs. Barbella struck out all three batters he faced with mostly curveballs.
“He was throwing junk,” Reagan said. “His curveball drops off the table. He got two kids swinging out of their shoes.”
And unlike last week, when a fielding error cost the Devils the game, their defense was stellar when it needed to be.
“Defensively, we played unbelievable,” Reagan said.
Eagle Valley first baseman Paul Suther turned a double play when he snagged a ground ball, stepped on first and tossed to second, where the runner was tagged out. Barbella had an unassisted double play off a line drive.
Rifle led, 2-1, going into the sixth, but the Eagle Valley bats came to life, picking up three runs. Barbella scored on a Blevins double, while catcher Willie Williamson brought home Blevins with a double. Aaron Hakes drove in Williamson for what would be the game-winning run on a single. Eagle Valley’s first run came when Blevins singled in Nick Whitehead, who had reached base on a triple. Suther and Blevins each went 2-for-3.
“It was a good game, and both teams were doing good things,” Reagan said. “We just couldn’t string a few hits in a row until the sixth.”
Last week, when the Devils led, 5-1 after three innings against Palisade in the second game, Reagan figured his team would be heading home early thanks to the 10-run rule. Saturday, the Devils held a 6-1 lead after three, and would indeed be on the bus before the seventh inning.
“Our bats were rolling,” Reagan said. “We had good base running, but some mistakes, but we really frustrated them. It got to the point where in the third, their coach decided to pull his starters.”
Eagle Valley’s Dan McKiernan was dominant from the mound, going the distance (five innings), with five strikeouts, and surrendering only three hits.
“He threw great and had tons of speed,” Reagan said.
At the plate, just about everyone in an Eagle Valley uniform touched base, with Ryan McClintock leading the way, going 3-for-3 with three runs batted in. Blevins was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI, while Whitehead went 1-for-1 and drew a pair of walks. Six of the Devils’ 12 runs came in the fourth.
Reagan was happy with the win, although he would have liked to see his team play a bit smarter on the base paths. Rifle made a slew of throwing errors in what were routine put-outs.
“Our base running mistakes ended up helping us out, but we still got picked off a couple times,” he said.
Eagle Valley improves to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the 4A Western Slope. The Devils host Glenwood Springs for a pair of games next Saturday starting at 11 a.m.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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