Eagle Valley falls 13-7 in wild home opener against Coal Ridge
Devils fall to 0-2 with home loss to Coal Ridge
Eagle Valley’s home opener on Tuesday was a game in which the final score didn’t do the preceding drama justice. The Devils built a 5-2 lead behind six innings of masterful pitching from Jacob Loupe, before a three-run, two-out triple from Ben Simons gave Coal Ridge its first lead in the top of the seventh inning. After trading extra-inning haymakers, the Titans would emerge as the victor in a wild 13-7 win.
“Tough loss,” Eagle Valley head coach Bret Moyer aptly summarized.
It was the second-straight close loss for Eagle Valley, which also fell 11-10 to Glenwood Springs in Friday’s season-opener. In that game, a five-run fourth inning doomed the Devils. Moyer was impressed by Loupe, who did it all for the Devils on Tuesday, striking out 10 on the mound and going 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, two runs and an RBI at the plate.
“He threw an awesome game. He was on it today, he was throwing strikes, he was fantastic,” the head coach added. The Devils, who were in control for the first six innings, cruised to a 3-0 lead after the first two.
After a scoreless third for both teams, Coal Ridge finally got the best of the junior pitcher; Brandon Short scored on a steal of home and John Houston drove in George Roberts to make it 3-2. The Devils responded in the bottom half as Jackson Woodworth and Nicholas Rahe were both hit by pitches and advanced on passed balls. Woodworth scored on a one-out passed ball and Rahe got to home on a sacrifice bunt from Jack Robinson to give the Devils cushion once again.
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After a scoreless fifth, Loupe returned to the mound again in the sixth, striking out Ben Simons in three pitches. The next batter, Brandon Short, was awarded a home run on what — by all accounts — appeared to be a ground-rule double, as the ball one-hopped over the fence. Loupe maintained his composure despite the call, striking out Jackson Slade and George Roberts to end the top-half of the inning.
The Devils appeared headed for the home-opener victory as Elias Pena took the mound to close, but the junior would run into trouble. John Houston, who finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI on the game, singled to open the inning before Pena struck out Dylan Miller. Then, Logan Simpson hit into a potential double play that would have ended the game, but the relay to first was overthrown. Alexis Serna and Logan Harlow were hit by pitches in consecutive fashion, loading up the bases with two outs. Then, working a 1-2 count, Ben Simons drove in three on a triple to left field to give the visitors their first lead of the game.
The Devils didn’t go down without a fight, however, and the game was far from over.
“We had some really clutch plays,” Moyer said. “Our guys played really well. We talked about how there’s just a few little things we can do better and that’s going to win us ball games.”
Loupe singled to right field to open the Devils’ last stand. Robinson worked Brandon Short to a full-count, but his long, fly ball to left field was reeled in for the first out, bringing up Anthony Ehlert. The freshman drilled one deep to right-center to bring home Loupe in what was his first hit of the game.
The Devils once again looked poised to potentially close things out — with Patrick Reno getting on base on a walk and Ehlert at third — but Ehlert got caught in a hot box as Collin Spaeth tried to set up a bunt, getting tagged for the second out. Spaeth watched a strike three pass by, ending the inning with a 6-6 tie and a missed opportunity.
In the top of the first extra-inning, the Titans threw another haymaker when a dropped third strike allowed Houston to score the go-ahead run from third base. Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, the first two Devils popped out before Jackson Woodworth decided it was time to make things even more interesting. The sophomore launched a moonshot over the head of the Titans left fielder for a triple. The next batter, Nicholas Rahe, worked the count to a walk, and the fourth ball slid past the Titans’ catcher, opening the door for Woodworth to steal home on a play at the plate, sending the game into a second extra inning.
The Titans would find their rhythm in the ninth, piling on six runs and all but erasing any memories of their futility during the previous two hours. Deflated, the Devils failed to score, forcing the young squad to look ahead to Friday’s home game against Rangefield to garner the first win of the season.
“Tough loss, but you know we’re going to take a lot out of this and we’re going to just keep moving forward. We’re going to have a great squad this year and it’s going to be a good year,” Moyer said.
“I look forward to continuing working with these guys and you know it’s early in the season, so we’re going to get more and more time outside to work on these things and we’re going to be good.”