Eagle Valley blasts Huskies, 15-1
EAGLE – The Battle Mountain baseball team hasn’t been able to practice outdoors much this season because of inclement weather.It showed Tuesday against rival Eagle Valley. The Huskies dropped fly balls, booted grounders, made bad throws and struggled at the plate in a discouraging 15-1 loss. “We kicked it around real well today,” Battle Mountain coach Jim Gannon said. “We can’t continue to give teams six outs in an inning.”The Devils initiated the rout by exploiting four Huskies errors in the top of the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Battle Mountain starting pitcher Bubba Atencio held the Devils scoreless in a strong first inning, but struggled in the second.After walking Eagle Valley’s Ethan Gilbert, Atencio plunked sophomore Bear Barkman to put two runners on base. Junior Kenny Slaughter moved Gilbert and Barkman to third and second, respectively, on a sacrifice bunt, before an Atencio balk sent Gilbert home and Barkman to third.The first miscue was a sign of things to come.
A pop fly to shallow left field from Eagle Valley’s Tim Peters dropped between three Huskies fielders, which put Peters on first. With runners on the corners and one out, Atencio honed in on batter Alex Dorothy. Dorothy swung on a called third strike, but took off for first base because the pitch ended up in the dirt. Battle Mountain catcher Chris Santner’s throw down to first flew into left field. The error allowed Dorothy to advance all the way to third while the other two runners came home. After two more errors and two more unearned runs, the Huskies managed to get out of the inning. They threatened to make up for the five-run deficit in the bottom half of the frame, but Santner left three runners stranded when he grounded out to first for the final out.Eagle Valley starting pitcher Owen Stanford struck out seniors Thomas Pacheco and Vinny Cisneros for the other two outs.The Devils used more Huskies errors to score runs in the third. Slaughter brought home Gilbert when a grounder slipped past the glove of Pacheco. Dorothy knocked a blooper to shallow center that brought home Barkman.Down 7-1, Gannon brought in reliever Andrew Martinez to take over for Atencio. The new pitcher didn’t cool down the Devils at the plate. Senior Andy Johnson kept the Eagle Valley rally going with a blooper to left that was dropped, bringing home Slaughter and Dorothy.
Johnson crossed the plate himself when junior Cody Comerford slapped a line drive to left field off Martinez. The Huskies, down 10-1, again threatened in the top of the third. With one out, Stanford walked Josh Andreasen and Pacheco. Sophomore Mitch Hendrix then lined a single down the first base line that loaded the bases. Stanford pitched his way out of trouble, however. He struck out junior Joe Ortega, then sophomore Nathan Howe to get out of the inning. “He went out there and competed today,” Devils coach Derek Cordes said of his lefty starter. “He didn’t get nervous. He went out and challenged their hitters.”Stanford was relieved in the fourth by junior Joe Felix. Dorothy pitched in the fifth to close out the win.The Devils got the remainder of their five runs in the fourth. The last run came off a two-run homer from Johnson, who blasted the ball over the right field wall with Dorothy on third base.It was the third home run of the season for the senior.”He’s been working hard in the weight room,” Cordes said. “It’s shown on the field. … We flat out swung the bats today. We’ve kind of been asleep at the plate all year, so I’m real happy with the way we hit. It’s contagious. Guys start getting hits and it builds confidence for other guys. It’s a snowball effect.”
The win was the first 4A Slope victory of the season for the Devils, new to the league this year. The team improved to 2-6 overall. The Devils play next at Paonia on Thursday at 4 p.m. The Huskies fell to 0-7 overall with the loss. Battle Mountain plays a doubleheader against Rifle Saturday starting at 11 a.m.Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado