AHS baseball nearly tops an unbeaten | AspenTimes.com

AHS baseball nearly tops an unbeaten

Behind the arm and cunning of Aspen senior Eddie Monge, the AHS baseball team nearly knocked off a giant Tuesday afternoon in the team’s home opener at the El Jebel field.

Monge, the team’s ace, stole home in the bottom of the sixth inning against unbeaten Rangley to tie the game at 4-4. And in the top of the seventh, with runners on the corners and two outs, Monge had the runner at third picked off. But in the ensuing pickle the runner broke for the plate, “and we had him dead to rights, but the ball came squirking out. It hurt,” said Aspen coach Rick Ryan.

Facing Rangley sophomore Luke Scott in the final half-inning of the game, Aspen failed to muster any offense against Scott, who throws in the high 80s (mph), Ryan said, and Rangley prevailed 5-4.

“We’ve never seen anybody throw that hard,” Ryan admitted. “But it takes him awhile in his windup, so on the second pitch, we decided to go and Eddie stole home outright. It was awesome – all timing, reading the pitcher and getting that jump.”

“We almost knocked off an undefeated team,” Ryan continued with a sigh. “It’s probably one of our best efforts in the last two years, even though we lost.

“I hate moral victories, but this definitely was a moral victory, without a doubt.”

Rangely improved to 10-0 on the season, while Aspen slipped to 2-7.

Monge threw a complete (seven-inning) game, including seven strikeouts, two walks and five earned runs.

“Right now, the way Eddie’s pitching, we don’t have to do much to be in a game,” Ryan said. “He’s in a groove.”

Rangely outhit Aspen seven to six, and each team committed just one error. “A solid game both ways,” Ryan said. “And competing with them, it’s going to be a big confidence boost. The Rangely coach was really impressed with how we played. He said we’re going to do a lot of good things.”

Aspen freshman Pat Faurer increased his hitting streak to nine games (in as many outings) with a double, and junior Phil Salazar connected with an RBI single to cut Rangely’s lead to 4-3 in the fifth inning. “Phil greeted the flamethrower [Scott] with a line drive to right field,” Ryan said. “He’s our best fastball hitter, and he’s finding his groove now.”

Ryan credited junior center fielder Nick Farrell for keeping Aspen in the game on defense. “He was huge today, running down everything. He doubled a guy off second base on a line drive and basically showed why he’s the best center fielder in our league in my opinion.”

Ryan said dozens of fans turned out for Aspen’s home opener, spurring the team along. “The kids were up,” he said. “I think playing in front of home fans is a big plus for us.

“We’ve got the athletes and that’s the thing,” Ryan said. “No matter who we play, we can be in the game. We’ve just got to play with guts and heart, like we did today, and we’ll be able to play with anybody.”

On Thursday at 3 p.m., Aspen hosts Steamboat Springs, also at the El Jebel field. On Saturday, Aspen travels to face Eagle Valley in a doubleheader.

“It’s a rough week, but I think we’re getting a little confidence,” the coach said.

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