Aspen baseball shuts up Steamboat 11-7 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen baseball shuts up Steamboat 11-7

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

After dropping a one-run game to undefeated Rangely on Tuesday, the Aspen High baseball team rebounded with an 11-7 win over Steamboat Springs Thursday in El Jebel.

Aspen junior Nick Farrell hit for the cycle – a 4-for-4 effort including a single, a double, a triple and a home run – lifting Aspen to victory in a game wherein unpleasantries were exchanged throughout.

“It was a real spicy game,” Aspen coach Rick Ryan said, “the type of game you don’t want to lose.”

Steamboat got off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Aspen clawed back to tie the game at 4-4 in the fourth. Farrell’s two-run shot to dead center in the bottom half of the inning staked Aspen to a 6-4 lead, and junior Phil Salazar and senior ace Eddie Monge combined to shut the door on Steamboat down the stretch.

“There’s a rivalry between these two schools, apparently something spilling over from hockey,” Ryan said. “We came out flat, but the more Steamboat talked, the more they got us into the game. That was a mistake because we responded. At one point, the guys said, `Enough of this.'”

With the win, Aspen improved to 3-7 on the season.

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Senior Jeff Brence pitched three innings for Aspen, allowing four earned runs, before turning the ball over to Salazar in the fourth. Salazar worked three innings and allowed three earned runs. Monge took over in the bottom of the seventh and struck out the final batter to seal the win.

“That’s why he’s our captain,” Ryan said. “He was pitching on short rest [from Tuesday’s complete-game effort against Rangely], but he came in and closed the door. And the whole time, the [Steamboat] team and fans were all over him.”

Neither team committed many errors, and all of Steamboat’s runs were earned.

“Another good game,” Ryan said, “and both teams were crushing the ball. We had a timely double play to stop their rally in the top of the fourth, and then they went through several pitchers to try to slow us down, but we kept it going.”

Junior shortstop Josh Lackey was 3-for-4 on the day, and Salazar went 2-for-4. Freshman rightfielder Pat Faurer extended his hitting streak to 10 games (in as many played) with a 1-for-4 effort at the plate.

“Aside from the offense, Nick [Farrell] was running down everything in center field,” Ryan said. “He got to balls that would’ve dropped against most teams. And that really helped us in the early going because without Eddie pitching, we knew we needed to keep it close.”

Freshman Brock Strausbourger and sophomore Stephen White shared the catching duties Thursday, “and both did a great job,” Ryan said. “We got Brock some work and he got his first varsity hit, and Stephen finished it out.

“We have to bring in Stephen when Phil pitches because he’s got a wicked knuckle ball and [Stephen’s] the only one who can catch it,” Ryan explained. “It’s a dancer, his strikeout pitch, but I’d like him to throw it more.”

On Saturday, Aspen travels to Eagle to face Eagle Valley in a doubleheader, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“We knew this was the week of hell for us, and it tops off with Eagle Valley,” Ryan said. “They’re the class in our division. Their pitching is so deep – they’ve got arm after arm after arm. But I didn’t expect us to play this well this week, so we’re as ready as we’re going to be. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll show up ready to go.”