Baseball: Aspen drops two against Grand Valley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL – Aspen head baseball coach Mark Hinch called it a step in the right direction, not a trying day.
Still, Saturday’s twinbill with Grand Valley must have been a little frustrating for the home team. The Skiers twice squandered late-inning leads and dropped to 0-4 on the young season after 10-8 and 6-5 losses.
“We lost by [slim margins] in both games, and these guys are still up,” Hinch said. “Last Saturday [in Rifle], we were 10-runned in both games. Today, they came back and kept pinching and pinching, and we couldn’t quite hold on.”
Aspen led by as many as seven runs in Saturday’s opener, but it faltered down the stretch.
Summoned from the bullpen with his team clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, Max Marolt walked a Cardinals player with the bases loaded but escaped further damage by inducing a strikeout and a weak groundout.
In what would become a common theme throughout the afternoon, the Skiers had trouble generating much offense against hard-throwing Grand Valley lefthander Trent Reidle. One player did draw a one-out walk and advance to third base on consecutive passed balls in the bottom of the seventh, but he was caught in a rundown and the game went to extra innings.
After a scoreless eighth, the Cardinals took advantage of a Skiers blunder to pull ahead for good. With one out and a runner standing on second, an Aspen outfielder chased down a fly ball and fired a throw that sailed well over the third baseman’s head, allowing one run to score.
Reidle, who later was intentionally walked, tacked on some insurance when a Skiers throw bounded out of play.
Grand Valley pulled ahead in the second inning of Game 2, when Stephan Padilla was hit by a pitch and came around to score on an infield error.
Skiers starter Ryan Smith wiggled out of trouble from there, however, forcing a groundout to third with the bases loaded. After he retired the side in order in the third, Smith and his teammates went to work with the bats.
Aspen strung together three hits and sent seven to the plate during its three-run third. Marolt scored on an error, Smith lined an RBI single to left and Stephan Papenfus drove in one with a well-placed ground ball to the right side of the infield.
The Skiers scored on another miscue in the fourth, extending their lead to 4-1.
The Cardinals inched closer with two runs in the fifth. Jake White hit an RBI double to the wall in left and Reidle singled home a run, cutting the deficit to one.
Like he did in Game 1, Reidle came out of the bullpen in the fifth. After walking Joseph Kistner and surrendering a run on a passed ball, Reidle settled down and leaned heavily on his fastball to dominate the Aspen lineup.
He struck out two in each of the final three innings while not surrendering a hit.
In the seventh, his teammates rewarded Reidle with a second victory in about four hours.
White hit a blooper to shallow right to score two and knot the game, then a teammate scored on a groundout.
Smith drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh, but he was stranded after another Reidle strikeout.
“All we can do is keep improving,” Hinch said. “The guys have been hitting outside for just two weeks, so we’re moving in the right direction.”
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.