Extra outs give Panthers victory over Devils
GYPSUM — Eagle Valley baseball gave Delta seven outs in the second inning, and the visiting Panthers were more than happy to oblige with six runs in a 10-5 win on Tuesday at Nolan Field in Gypsum.
Down 2-0 already, Eagle Valley committed three errors and botched a pickoff play in that frame. That opened the door for Delta’s Damon Jensen with a two-run single and Tristan Brown, who happily emptied the bases with a grand slam to right field. The Devils would rally with a grand salami of their own, but the damage had been done.
“Ethan (Sug Ellsworth) was up there throwing a good game, and it’s a team game, and you have to make plays behind him,” Eagle Valley manager Jesse Meryhew said. “As a coach, you want him to throw minimum pitches. If they hit it, that’s ideal.”
The Devils had two errors at the hot corner to set the table. Both of those scored on Jensen’s single. Another error on the other side of the diamond loaded the bases, but Eagle Valley seemed to receive a get-out-of-jail-free card when Ellsworth caught the Delta runner off third base. Ellsworth threw to third-baseman Joe Rivera. Rivera correctly fired to catcher Eric Boyd. The only problem was that no one was covering third for the throw back. The Devils had the elusive third out, either by getting the original picked-off Panther or when Delta nearly had two runners at third.
“We needed an out there,” Meryhew said.
However, all the Panthers returned to their original bases and Horn smashed the next pitch over the right field fence, the first of his two bombs on the day.
Ellsworth ended up allowing eight runs, six of which were unearned, over five innings. To his credit, the senior threw three goose eggs after getting touched up early.
PLAYING SMALL BALL
And the Devils kept battling. Kyle Williams put Eagle Valley on the board with an RBI single in the fourth. In the fifth, in a curious but successful touch of strategy, the Devils played small ball. Harrison Stevens led the inning off by getting on board via error. (The senior was 1-for-2 at the plate, but reached base in all four of his plate appearances.)
Then Slater Sabo laid down a perfect bunt into no-man’s land to reach base. Oscar Gallegos laid down another bunt, which Delta pitcher Jasper Carmichael mishandled, throwing wide to first. And though the bunt may not be the best strategy down 8-1 in the fifth inning — ours is not too question why — the bags were juiced for Wade Ticer. Master Ticer went yard and the Devils were right back in it.
Horn extended Delta’s lead to 9-5 with a solo shot, which was only a solo shot because Boyd had just thrown out an attempted steal at second. Seth Menhinney knocked in Delta’s final run.
Eagle Valley (6-7 overall and 3-5 in the Slope) is at Battle Mountain for two on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“For us, it’s going to be all about mental preparation,” Meryhew said. “They’re a scrappy team. They’re a good team. They’re one of the most improved teams in the league. They want to beat us. We have to be mentally prepared and focus on some defense.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.