Aspen baseball drives in first win
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Behind the arm and bat of senior Jeff Brence, the Aspen High baseball team recorded its first win of the season Tuesday at Class 2A Grand Valley.
After sitting out the last two seasons to concentrate on basketball, Brence returned to the diamond this season, delivering previously 0-4 Aspen to an 18-10 win with six innings of work on the mound and a three-run homer in the fifth that catapulted Aspen into the lead.
“We’re back now,” said Aspen coach Rick Ryan. “We finally had all our horses out on the field and it makes a big difference.”
Brence struck out seven in six innings of work and gave up five earned runs. But Aspen trailed 6-5 entering the fifth when the fireworks started.
“It was a real tight game ’til the fifth inning,” the coach said, “then we blew it open and we got 11 runs.”
“We’ve been waiting all year for that inning,” Ryan added.
Brence’s three-run shot – “a line drive job to dead center,” Ryan said – capped off the inning, though several other Aspen hitters figured into the action.
Junior Phil Salazar was 3-for-4 at the plate, while freshman phenom Pat Faurer added his usual two hits (in three at bats) and drove in three runs. “He’s got a five-game hitting streak as a freshman. And it may be two in every game. I’ll have to check on that,” coach said.
Junior second baseman Pete MacKellar was 2-for-3 on the day. “It looks like he’s going to have a good season at the plate,” Ryan said. “He worked hard on hitting all summer and he’s really improved.”
Ryan credited sophomore catcher Stephen White for calling a good game behind the plate. White also added a hit and drew a walk.
Aspen’s ace pitcher Eddie Monge, playing third base, got aboard twice, with a hit and a walk.
“It was great to have somebody other than Eddie pitch a great game,” Ryan said. “Usually it’s Eddie and then by committee, but now we’ve got a little depth.”
In the closing innings against Grand Valley, Ryan said “we got cute trying a couple different pitchers, so those late runs weren’t on Jeff.”
Today, Aspen travels to face Debeque before opening its Class 3A Western Slope League season at Meeker for a double-header Saturday.
“Our mission is to win all four this week and we’ll be right where we want to be,” Ryan said.
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