Aspen nips rival Rams on neutral diamond | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen nips rival Rams on neutral diamond

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. Escaping its snow-covered baseball diamond and finding a neutral field, Roaring Fork was able to play its first game of the season Tuesday afternoon.Unfortunately for the Rams, Aspen took advantage of the sunny day at Cooper Field in Rifle, scoring seven runs in the first two innings on its way to a 9-8 win over its 3A Western Slope rival.After having only one hour of practice outdoors Monday, Roaring Fork head coach Steve Kinney was proud of his young team. Especially pitchers Jake Kinney and freshman Alex Rascon.Jake Kinney started the game on the mound for the Rams, and while he didn’t allow a single hit and struck out six, he struggled with finding the strike zone. The senior walked nine and allowed seven runs in the first two innings. Rascon gave up two hits and one run in four innings of work on the mound in his high school pitching debut.”They only had two hits, so I was happy. We lost, we need to get better, but we bounced back,” coach Kinney said. “Once Jake Kinney gets in the groove a bit better, we’ll just keep improving.”Aspen advanced its walked runners with stolen bases and passed balls. Altogether, the Skiers swiped nine bases in the game.After falling behind, 7-0, the Rams got back in the game with a four-run third inning. After loading the bases on an error sandwiched between two walks, Kinney knocked in Roaring Fork’s first run on another error. Then the Rams strung together three singles in a row to bring more runners around. After Arick Zeigel hit one of the singles, he overran first base only to be thrown out. Some smart Rams base-running made up for his mistake. Rascon and Kinney came around to score while Aspen threw Zeigel out, then overthrew home plate.In the bottom of the fifth, Roaring Fork scored two runs and had the bases loaded with no outs, but missed an opportunity to score more.The bats slowed down and pitching and defense took over in the fifth and sixth innings as goose eggs went up on the scoreboard.Rascon settled in on the mound for the Rams and Cole Anderson closed out the game for the Skiers with 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run and striking out six.Aspen added one insurance run with a Jonathan Woodrow sacrifice grounder in the seventh inning before Kinney recorded the last out with a diving catch in center field.Soren Phibbs slugged a single in the seventh and then with two outs, the Skiers had three overthrown balls to turn two outs into base runners and bring around two runs.Then Aspen (2-2 overall, 1-0 Western Slope) intentionally walked Kinney, the go-ahead run, to get to Wyatt Zetterholm. The bet paid off for the Skiers as Zetterholm grounded out to end the game.After losing two games in the seventh inning in a tournament in Denver over the weekend, Aspen head coach Nate Grinzinger was happy to see his team hang on to this one.”We were on the other end of it this time,” he said. “A lot of the time, high school kids, when they have a lead like that, they lose their focus. Another team fights back when another comes back, it’s fairly common in high school baseball. We just need to keep our intensity up the whole game.”Catcher Zach Moriarty lead the Skiers offensively, going 1 for 2 with two walks and three runs scored. Zeigel go two hits for Roaring Fork (0-1) while Oscar Beltram reached base three times and scored three runs.

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