Mansfield blocks the plate, Devils rally
Vail CO, Colorado
RIFLE ” Eagle Valley catcher Kevin Mansfield probably doesn’t want to thank Rifle first baseman Mendoza for running him over.
The rest of the Devils, however, may want to tip their hats to Mendoza.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning of the second game in Saturday’s doubleheader at Rifle, the Devils got a spark when Mansfield held the plate and tagged out a hard-charging Mendoza.
“We didn’t play so well in the first game and kind of continued our woes from (last Saturday’s) Palisade (doubleheader loss), and finally got fired up when (Mendoza) ran our catcher,” said Eagle Valley skipper Ken Reagan.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Devils scored two runs to tie the game, and would score two more in the fifth and the sixth, while pitcher Dan McKiernan went the distance in the 6-2 win. Eagle Valley lost the lidlifter, 6-4.
With the split, the Devils ended a four-game skid, and moved them to 3-5 in the 4A Western Slope and 5-7 overall.
McKiernan faced only 27 hitters, six more than the minimum in a 7-inning game, and had no earned runs. The lefty hurler only surrendered two hits and struck out eight.
“He shut them down,” Reagan said. “Our defense was a little shaky ” we had one error.”
Eagle Valley’s Alex Dorothy scored two runs, and went 3-for-5 on the day with two RBI’s. Mansfield, who caught both games, had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-3 in both games, including a double and triple in the opener where he had two runs.
“He’s been doing a really good job,” Reagan said.
In the nightcap, Mansfield threw out two runners stealing, and held his ground on the play in the fourth inning when Devils’ shortstop Bear Barkman fielded a grounder and tossed it home.
Nick Whitehead, Mansfield, Jack Siebert and Ryan McClintock also touched home in the 6-2 win.
“Our bats were going along,” Reagan said. “We talk about this because we’ve been watching pitchers. We had one walk, two strikeouts, and everything else was contact ” just putting the ball in play.”
Eagle Valley put runners on base early in the fifth and sixth inning of the opener while trailing 6-3, but couldn’t manufacture runs.
“We could have won,” Reagan said. “We had guys on second and third base two times in two innings and couldn’t get those guys to score. We couldn’t get the bats going on consecutive hits.”
Barkman broke out of a slump, going 2-for-4, and pitched one inning of relief, allowing one hit. Hunter Blevins threw five innings, earning three runs on five hits while fanning six.
Eagle Valley hosts Grand Valley Thursday in a non-league matchup. Reagan said either Whitehead or Siebert will get the start.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.