Aspen High baseball drops a pair |

Aspen High baseball drops a pair

A two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday robbed the Aspen High baseball team of victory in its opening Class 3A Western Slope League game of the season at Meeker.

Aspen’s senior ace, Eddie Monge, clubbed a two-run homer in the top half of the inning to lift Aspen to a 6-5 lead. But in the bottom half of the inning, with Monge still working on a gem of a game from the mound, the two-run walk-off shot ended the game in Meeker’s favor, 7-6.

Monge struck out a career-high 13 in the complete-game (seven-inning) outing, while allowing six hits, one walk and two earned runs (from the walk-off homer).

“Five unearned runs and six fielding errors beat us,” said coach Rick Ryan. “Eddie’s on a roll; he’s just not getting any support.”

Aspen outhit Meeker 14 to 6, but Aspen also stranded 11 base runners.

“Eddie’s two-run homer to give us the lead hit the flag pole in center field,” Ryan said, “so to go from that high to that low, it was tough.”

Junior third baseman Phil Salazar and senior first baseman Jeff Brence each had three hits, and junior shortstop Josh Lackey and freshman right fielder Pat Faurer added two hits apiece. “Pat’s had at least two hits in all eight of our games,” Ryan said. “He just puts the ball in play and finds the holes.”

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Meeker, Aspen trailed early, 13-4, through four innings. Aspen rallied back with a seven-run fifth inning, but couldn’t eke out the win, losing 14-11.

“We outhit ’em again, 16 to 11, but it took us awhile to get into the game,” Ryan said. “We were still a little bummed from losing the first one.”

Sophomore Carter Budwell, a recent call-up from JV, sparked the rally for Aspen in the fifth with a two-run single, while Salazar stroked three hits again and Faurer added his usual two. “Of course,” Ryan joked.

“Meeker’s a good hitting team and they always are,” Ryan said. “Usually we can get them to come apart in the field, but we didn’t this year.”

With the losses, Aspen dropped to 2-6 overall, 0-2 in league.

Today at 4 p.m., Aspen hosts Rangely, undefeated at 9-0, at the El Jebel field. On Thursday at 3 p.m., also at the El Jebel field, Aspen hosts Steamboat before traveling to Eagle Valley for a doubleheader Saturday.

“It’s a very tough week,” Ryan said. “We’ve had just one practice outside as a full team, and that was last Friday, and I just don’t know if we’ll ever catch up. We’ve got to hope it’s how we finish, not how we start. That’s what we’ve got to preach right now.”

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