Basalt holds off Aspen in Debeque | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt holds off Aspen in Debeque

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

DEBEQUE, Colo. The start of the local prep baseball season could be titled, “No fields for young men.”With more snow falling Thursday on already-buried local diamonds, rivals Basalt and Aspen headed off to DeBeque – some 90-plus miles away on the edge of Mesa County – to squeeze in a full seven innings.Officially, this was a home game for Basalt, which took advantage of some sloppy Skiers’ fielding in the bottom of the first to score five runs, then got a three-run home run from senior Travis D’Anna in the second to pick up an 8-6 win.Basalt is a perfect 4-0 to start the season, and 1-0 in the 3A Western Slope – marks it will look to improve upon Saturday when its hosts Cedaredge for a doubleheader. The Longhorns might just consider DeBeque for all their remaining home games, since all four wins thus far have come on the home field of the IA Dragons.Thursday’s win also gave third-year Basalt coach Rick Ryan his fourth regular season win in five tries over his former team.”We had two weeks off before we played last, and I was worried about matching [Aspen’s] emotion because I’ve seen them this year and they rely on emotion,” Ryan said. “We have to make plays to beat emotion, and we were able to do that.”Aspen (2-3, 1-1 3A Western Slope) edged Roaring Fork on Tuesday, 9-8, in Rifle, and held Basalt scoreless through the final four innings while whittling the Longhorns’ lead down from six to four, then two. The Skiers blew a chance to pull within one in the top of the seventh, however, after Anderson Cole was thrown out while trying to steal third.Two batters later, after Basalt reliever Corey Ostrander induced a groundout from Aspen’s Kyle Langley, Taylor Huske lined a drive just past Ostrander’s outstretched glove for a single that would have scored Cole.”[Our aggressiveness] came back to bite us once, and that’s on me,” said first-year Aspen coach Nate Grinzinger. “We are a very aggressive team, though, and we’re going to continue to attack the defense and challenge the catcher all year. We’ve only been thrown out twice the whole season.”Aspen struck for two runs in the top of the first when Zach Mazariti drove in Taylor Mayer with a single, then came around to score two batters later when Huske reached first on an errant throw by Basalt short stop Connor Rakowski.Basalt managed to get out of the inning without further damage when starter Zach Shultz struck out Chris Dreher. “That’s what we focused on: If we make a mistake, don’t let one run turn into four,” Ryan said. “We did a good job of that, keeping the ball in front of us and making the timely pitches.”Shultz continued to do just that, holding the Skiers scoreless over the next three innings. In the top of the fifth, Walker Moriarty drove in Mayer, then came home after Mazariti lined a double to right field. Ostrander took over in the sixth, after Dreher drove in Kevin Frazier, and allowed just one run over the final six outs.”Our pitching came through,” Ryan said. “I thought Zach did as well as he could before he ran out of gas. Corey Ostrander is a sophomore and we know he throws strikes and we know our infield is pretty good, so we’re hoping to keep the ball in play.”Aspen also got strong pitching from starter Huske and reliever Mayer, although the team’s three errors in the first put Aspen in a 5-0 hole that left Grinzinger shaking his head. The hole was too deep to get out of after Huske, with two outs in the bottom of the second, hung a high fast ball over the plate to D’Anna.”I knew it was gone when I hit it,” said the Basalt senior of his three-run blast over the fence in right-center field that brought home Scott Hoffman and Matt Whittier. “This win feels good. We’re off to a good start, and we hope to keep it up all season.””It’s early for both teams, and we’ve both been playing inside, but it’s just tough to win a game with that many errors,” added Grinzinger. ” … We’ve got good enough athletes to make plays, we just need a little more focus.”Mayer, who threw shut-out ball over the final four innings after two innings of work Tuesday against Roaring Fork, agreed. “We need to work on our fielding, for sure,” he said. “The errors killed us at the start of the game. Our sticks, again, were pretty good, but we just need to keep it up in the field. I really think we can beat them. We just need to eliminate those errors.”Aspen will certainly have plenty of time to try to do that before its next game. The Skiers have nearly two weeks off before a double-header against Cedaredge on April 2.npeterson@aspentimes.com.