Aspen baseball back in swing of things |

Aspen baseball back in swing of things

When all of its players finally make the transition from the court to the diamond, the Aspen High boys baseball team will field eight of nine starters from last season’s 10-9 campaign, including two first-team all-league selections.

But lately, the Class 3A Western Slope League’s top team for batting average last season has been spending more time on the basketball court. The AHS boys advanced to the 3A state tournament, which just wrapped up on Saturday.

“Eventually, I’ll have almost all my starters back,” Aspen coach Rick Ryan said. “But almost my whole varsity, minus two or three kids, play basketball. So we’ll be playing from behind for awhile, but it gives the young kids a chance to see some action.”

In Aspen’s opening game of the season on Tuesday at Hotchkiss, AHS freshman Pat Fauer made a name for himself in his varsity debut. Fauer was 2-for-3 at the plate, with two RBIs, a double and a triple. “Considering our older kids were whiffing, the young kids played really well,” the coach said.

With just two varsity regulars in the lineup, Aspen dropped the game to Hotchkiss 11-4. However, when Aspen’s senior ace pitcher, Eddie Monge, left the game, Aspen only trailed by three runs.

“We had to finish with JV pitchers because we’ve got to use Eddie this weekend,” Ryan said. “But we played tough, incredibly tough.”

Ryan said freshman Matt Fox “had an outstanding game” at first base for Aspen on Tuesday, and junior Ryan Doremus “made some great plays” at second base.

“And considering it was [junior center fielder] Nick Farrell’s first game back – he hadn’t even had a practice – and he gunned a guy down at third base,” Ryan said.

Farrell and Monge return as all-leaguers. And aside from being Aspen’s top hurler last season, Monge led the team in batting average at .565. “He’s our ace and he can swing the bat too,” Ryan said.

Junior third baseman Phil Salazar returns as Aspen’s power source, with 5 home runs and 33 RBIs last year and a .536 average. Junior shortstop Josh Lackey, named by the Rocky Mountain News as one of the top returning players in Class 3A, returns as Aspen’s stopper at shortstop, Ryan said.

This weekend, Aspen travels to Montrose for an eight-team tournament, including four Class 5A schools. Aspen will play three games, Ryan said.

“We’re the smallest school in the tournament, so it’s a big step for us,” he said. “But we expect to challenge for the league [title] this year, so it’ll be good for us.”

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