Cole, Aspen salvage split with Olathe | AspenTimes.com
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Cole, Aspen salvage split with Olathe

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

OLATHE, Colo. ” Aspen pitcher Anderson Cole struggled with his control Thursday against Olathe, so much so that coach Nate Grinzinger called the performance Cole’s weakest of the season.

Then again, everything is relative.

Cole, who has already hurled a perfect game and a no-hitter, surrendered just two hits and one earned run ” the first he’s allowed all season ” in a complete game effort against the Pirates. The Skiers leaned on Cole’s right arm and clutch hitting to pull out a 7-1 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader in Rifle.

Defense woes and base running gaffes cost Aspen the chance to pull off a sweep and clinch a seventh-consecutive 3A Western Slope win in the nightcap. Three fielding miscues led to five first-inning Olathe runs, and the Pirates cruised to a 6-1 win.

“We’re staying pretty positive considering this is the first day Aspen didn’t really show up in the last seven games,” Grinzinger said Friday. “I haven’t really placed why the intensity was missing. It just seemed like we were a little low on energy. … We didn’t play our best baseball, but we still found a way to get a ‘W’ out of it.”

Taylor Mayer drew a leadoff walk in the first inning of Game 1, stole second and scored on Walker Moriarty’s RBI single to break a scoreless tie.

The Pirates pushed across their lone run in the third when, after moving a runner to second on a sacrifice bunt, one batter reached out and made contact with a Cole slider, sending a soft liner over Skiers first baseman Chris Dreher’s head.

Dreher put Aspen in front for good in the fourth when, after hitting two foul balls that sailed foul and over the right field fence, he drew a walk and came around to score on an outfield error.

Zach Maraziti hit an RBI double and Dreher and RBI single during the fifth, then Maraziti drove in one with a single in the sixth. During that frame, the Skiers pushed across three runs ” Mayer drove in Cole with a well-placed bunt and Christian de la Cruz scored on a wild pitch ” to all but seal the game.

Cole didn’t need much insurance. The junior, who struck out five of the six batters he faced in a relief appearance victory Tuesday against rival Basalt, struck out five and walked three. He improved to 5-0.

Things did not go as smoothly in the second game. The first two Olathe hitters reached on infield errors and five runs scored in the first. All were unearned.

“We gave it away,” Grinzinger said. “We flat out didn’t deserve to win.

“[Mayer] threw a nice game. … He kept his composure and kept throwing strikes. That deserves to be commended when the team doesn’t help that much and commits three errors in the first six hitters.”

Aspen’s struggles were not confined to the defensive side. Two Skiers were thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles, one was doubled up after a diving catch in the outfield and another was caught trying to advance to second on a throw to home plate.

Aspen produced just three hits. Mayer had two and Lamont Gross had one ” a single in the fifth that produced the lone run for the Skiers, who dropped to 8-2 in league play.

“We should’ve taken two,” Grinzinger said. “But let’s put this in perspective. At this time last year we were 0-9, 0-10 or something like that. … We’re all disappointed but it happens.”

Aspen, which is now off for Ex. Ed., will not the take the field again until Monday, April 20, when they visit Gunnison for a doubleheader.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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