Aspen pitcher Anderson Cole fans 12 in win over Basalt
EL JEBEL Aspen’s Anderson Cole won’t be making the trip to Hotchkiss for Saturday’s doubleheader. After his performance Thursday against rival Basalt, however, it’s a safe bet he’ll still be the topic of conversation all weekend.Cole delivered one of the season’s most dominant pitching performances, striking out 12 Longhorns and surrendering just three hits in a complete-game effort. The Skiers bats broke open a tie game with three runs in the fourth, scored six runs in their final three at-bats and rolled to an 8-2 victory – the team’s first since April 5.
As a result of the Longhorns’ loss, their hope of snagging the league’s fifth and final playoff berth appears slim. Basalt (6-9 overall, 3-8 3A Western Slope) must win both games in Gunnison today and Saturday and Coal Ridge must drop both of its games today against Olathe. The Titans currently occupy fifth place in the conference, have a one-game lead over the Longhorns and hold the tiebreaker (run differential) should both teams wind up with identical records. “We ran into a buzz saw today,” Basalt coach Steve Martin said. “I used to coach Anderson, and that’s the best I’ve ever seen him pitch.”Cole looked like an assertive veteran, not a sophomore making just his fourth start this season. He struck out four of the first six Longhorns and faced the minimum through two innings. Meanwhile, Aspen (3-12, 3-9) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Zach Maraziti dragged a bunt up the first- base line to score Taylor Mayer, then Walker Moriarty, who reached on an error by Basalt starter Zack Shultz, scored on a balk.
The Longhorns battled back with runs in the third and fourth. Dillon Buck doubled to left and scored on an infield error in the third. Jon Komula then hit a sharp grounder to third that took an unexpected hop and bounded over Moriarty and into left field, allowing Travis D’Anna to score. Aspen was just heating up. Cole doubled to left to lead off the fourth as the first eight Skiers to bat reached base. Taylor Huske hit an RBI single to right, No. 9 hitter Lamont Gross drew a bases-loaded walk, then Mayer was hit, forcing in a third run and chasing Shultz from the game. Newly-inserted pitcher Connor Rakowski induced a groundout to the mound, then alertly covered home plate on a passed ball to tag out Gross and end the inning.The senior could not escape trouble in the fifth and six, however, as two runs scored on errors and Moriarty hit an RBI double to the wall in left, stretching the lead to six.
Seven of nine batters in the Aspen lineup scored runs.”My offense really backed me up,” Cole said. The right-hander did most of the work, however. After escaping trouble in the fourth and fifth, Cole cruised through the final three innings without allowing a hit. He walked just two batters.”We didn’t play stellar ball behind our pitchers, but even with those errors, if you have three hits you don’t win many games,” Martin said.
“He pitched one of the better high school games I’ve ever seen,” Aspen coach Nate Grinzinger added. “He was just outstanding. … It was really important to finish on a good note.”Martin and Basalt had hoped to inch closer to a postseason berth. Now, they’ll play to keep their playoff dreams alive. It’s a familiar situation; the Longhorns needed a split with Gunnison on the final day of the 2007 regular season to clinch a berth. They wound up dropping both games, 13-1 and 19-6. “We’ll know our destiny if we don’t win that first game,” Martin said. “There’s no tomorrows anymore.”firstname.lastname@example.org
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