Vail Valley preps: Huskies, Sailors split a pair
EAGLE-VAIL – The axiom goes that a double play is a pitcher’s best friend.
Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain baseball offered different theories on that rule Wednesday in Eagle-Vail.
In Game 1, Sailors hurler Tyler Brown was his own best friend knocking in the go-ahead run and then tamping down a Huskies’ rally in the bottom of the seventh – the bases loaded with nobody out – for a 7-6 Steamboat victory. In the nightcap, Huskies starter Chris Duran’s new best friend was a vibrant offense as the Huskies cruised to a 19-5 win.
With the split, Steamboat moved to 3-8 in the 4A Slope, while the Huskies upped their league mark to 2-10.
Walking the go-ahead run?
Tied 5-5 in the top of the seventh in the opener, the Sailors used some two-out lightning to grab the lead for good. The Sailors’ Matt Watwood singled and Brown followed with a run-scoring double to put his team ahead 6-5.
Steamboat’s Ryan Hall added what would be a much-needed insurance run with a single, plating Brown.
Down 7-5, the Huskies looked like they were on their way to a comeback win. Andrew Pellerito started the inning with a base knock. Guy Garth brought him home with a double to left.
With Garth as the tying run on second base, Sailors manager Dave Roy made a gutsy call to break baseball conventional wisdom.
“You don’t want to put the winning run on base, but …,” Roy said.
He didn’t need to say much more. Battle Mountain’s Mike Jones was sitting at the plate and all he had done so far Wednesday was go 3-for-3 with a pair of two-run homers. Roy held up four fingers walking Jones intentionally.
“I was just trying to hit line drives,” Jones said. “You don’t try to hit one out.”
Battle Mountain’s Davey Honda singled to load the bases with no outs, and the Huskies felt confident that they could at least send the game to extra innings.
“If you had told me before the game we’d be in that situation with the bases loaded and no outs, I’d have taken it,” Huskies manager Jason Spannagel said.
Instead, Brown dug deep. He went to a three-ball count with Battle Mountain’s Donnie Cuomo before punching him out. Brown again was one pitch from walking the Huskies’ Joe LyBarger, but got the center fielder to pop up harmlessly to catcher Brandon Clark.
And in a battle of Browns, Tyler got Battle Mountain’s Cameron to pop out for the final out.
“It was intense,” Tyler Brown said. “I don’t really remember how I got out of that. I just had to get it done.”
Huskies starter Joe Webb ended up taking the hard-luck loss in the first game – four of the seven runs he allowed were unearned.
During the 20-minute break between games, the Huskies talked about shaking off the missed opportunity.
“That was great,” Spannagel said. “I was worried about that after the first game, but sometimes being the visiting team in these doubleheaders helps. We can hit and we were able to get right back out there and get a lead.”
Though in home whites, the Huskies were the road team for the nightcap and capitalized on Steamboat errors and wild pitches for two runs in the first. Garth knocked in Jon Simpson in the second for a 3-1 lead.
Cuomo ripped a two-run double in the top of the fourth, but the Sailors kept hanging around, scoring two in the bottom half of the frame to close Battle Mountain’s lead to 8-3.
With memories of their first league win last week against Glenwood – Battle Mountain was up 8-3 only to hang on for an 9-7 win – lingering, this time, the Huskies put a game away.
Honda smashed a two-run homer as a part of a three-run fifth for Battle Mountain.
“My first varsity homer,” Honda said with pride.
The Huskies sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth, scoring eight runs. Cameron Brown started it with a run-scoring triple. Riley Robbins brought him home with a single. Garth belted a two-run double and the Huskies were circling the bases fast and furiously.
“I tip my cap to Battle Mountain in the second game,” Roy said. “We just couldn’t stop them.”
Duran finished the game with a flourish for Battle Mountain striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth as the Huskies won via the 10-run rule.
Steamboat turned a pair of double plays in the first game and three total during the twinbill. … Webb Gem: Webb helped his own cause, spearing a line drive from Steamboat’s Carson Becker in the third inning of the first game. … It was Senior Day for the Huskies, and the team honored Garth, Cuomo, Simpson and Brown after the doubleheader … Next up for Steamboat is a home pair against Eagle Valley on Saturday. Battle Mountain heads to Craig for two against Moffat County Tuesday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.