Basalt captures first baseball league title
The Aspen Times
The Basalt Longhorns wrote some history of their own Thursday afternoon.
The Basalt High School baseball team won the conference championship for the first time in school history.
A first for the Longhorns.
A doubleheader sweep of Moffat County at Crawford Field in El Jebel clinched the Western Slope League championship and a berth in the state playoffs.
Maybe even a home designation for the first round of the playoffs.
“We got it done,” Basalt head coach Rick Ryan said after the Longhorns beat Moffat County, 4-2 and 5-2. “We’re the league champions for the first time.”
He said the Longhorns relied on a familiar formula to beat the Bulldogs twice and improve to 14-1 overall, 13-0 in league.
Steady pitching, timely hitting, aggressive baserunning and incredible defense put the Longhorns atop the conference.
Basalt beat Moffat County’s Bubba Ivers, the league’s hardest thrower, in the opening game.
Tucker Jenkins had two key hits, Ryan said.
“And we ran the bases.” Nick Calabro had a big RBI in that first game,” he said. Calabro also pitched all seven innings for Basalt.
“He went the distance. He was great out there,” Ryan said. “Our defense again was the story of the day.”
Solid defense came from the outfield and the infield, he said.
The Longhorns faced more adversity in the second game when starting catcher Cody Banc was injured in a collision early in the game.
Senior captain Mark Barto, the starting center fielder, moved behind the plate.
Banc had caught every inning for the Longhorns this season until Thursday’s second game.
Originally a second baseman, Barto moved to center field this year.
“He’s the best center fielder in this league,” Ryan said. “He stepped in, and you wouldn’t know he wasn’t our regular catcher.”
Barto caught starter Spencer Glasener, who pitched the first five innings of the second game.
He had pitched seven innings earlier his week, so was limited to five against the Bulldogs.
“Tim Jenkins pitched the final two innings. He got the last six outs for us,” Ryan said, adding that Jenkins hasn’t pitched much this year.
But he did well Thursday, Ryan said.
“And again, our defense made plays.”
He said the leadership of captains Barto and Jenkins helped turn around the Longhorns, who won only five games last year.
“And Spencer. He’s our senior who plays the most. He will get a lot of votes for player of the year this year,” Ryan said of the undefeated Basalt pitcher.
He’s also one of Basalt’s leading hitters.
The Longhorns will host Olathe in a league doubleheader Saturday.
Then, the Longhorns will play a makeup game at Grand Valley on Tuesday.
Those games won’t affect Basalt’s status as the conference champions this season.
The Longhorns clinched the conference championship with three games left to be played.
Basalt’s only loss this year came against Class 4A baseball power Rifle.
“I told the guys, there’s not many things you can say that you were first. These guys can say that for the rest of their lives. Conference champions for the first time in school history. That’s pretty special.”
Ryan said the Longhorns need to work on the celebrations, however.
“We were not quite sure how to celebrate. We all kind of gathered at the mound. We need to work on our celebration,” Ryan said with a hearty chuckle.
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