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Basalt starts summer strong

Jon Maletz

His teammates and coach didn’t receive word about Colin Matheney’s decision to play summer league baseball until Tuesday night – the eve of the team’s first game.I’m in, Matheney told teammate Tucker Hinchcliffe. The team was happy to have him: Matheney tallied five RBIs and four hits in Basalt’s two-game sweep of Eagle Valley. “Not bad for a kid who wasn’t even going to play,” coach Rick Ryan said. “I don’t know what made him change his mind, and I thought it was a joke when I heard. We’re glad to have him out there.”Matheney, with his team trailing 8-4, hit a two-run shot to help spark a nine-run fifth inning, and Hinchcliffe added a two-run homer of his own. Matheney, an all-Western Slope selection, followed one inning later with a two-run triple. All told, Matheney, who added an RBI single, knocked in five of Basalt’s runs in the 18-9 win. Basalt, who brought just nine players to Eagle, leaned on pitcher Zack Shultz. He shook off a rough start to keep his team close. Hinchcliffe struck out the side in his inning of relief to clinch the win.”Zack did pretty well, he just needs to be a little more efficient,” Ryan said. “Summer ball is so much more about individual development than the team. This game was perfect for our young pitchers to do their thing, and for our big hitters to win the game.”Basalt senior Brian Mason, the team’s shortest player, came up big in the 8-0 win in the second game, shortened to three innings for time. Mason faced seven Eagle Valley hitters, and struck out seven.”He pitched during the regular season against Battle Mountain and threw 19 of his 21 pitches for strikes. He keeps us awake,” Ryan said. “He works really fast and never leaves the rubber. He got the other kids to chase high pitches. I think we’re onto something here.”Matt Fox, who played for Ryan at Aspen High School, and Alan Prater hit two-run doubles in Basalt’s four-run first inning. It added two in each of the following innings. The two wins are a promising start for a squad who won’t be at full strength until the end of June. Multiple players are participating in Longhorns summer football camp in Wyoming. Of the 18 players who committed to playing, only eight showed up Wednesday.Basalt had planned on sticking an Eagle Valley player in right field, Ryan said. After one phone call from Prater to a friend in Carbondale, however, Basalt had enough players to compete.”We literally picked up the ninth guy on the way down,” Ryan said. “We picked him up at his front door. The hardest part about summer ball is getting enough guys to play on certain days.”Basalt next travels to Rifle to play two Tuesday. Whether they’ll have enough players remains to be seen.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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