Dreher drives in nine, Aspen baseball wins two against Coal Ridge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY – Coal Ridge could do little to slow the Aspen bats Saturday.
The Skiers pounded out 19 hits and scored 33 runs in the afternoon doubleheader. Chris Dreher went 6-for-10 with two home runs and nine RBIs to lead Aspen to 18-9 and 15-12 victories.
The Skiers, who are in a battle with Gunnison for the 3A Western Slope’s fifth and final playoff spot, improved to 8-10 overall and 8-7 in conference play. They have won six of their last seven.
“We just have to keep the offense going and clean up the defense – that’s the name of the game right now,” Aspen head coach Nate Grinzinger said. “This might’ve been the first day all year that we took two.”
Dreher was the catalyst during the opener. While he struggled on the mound in three-plus innings of work, the senior singled home two runs in the first to give the Skiers the early lead. Aspen scored two more in the frame on a wild pitch and a Titans error.
It tacked on one more in the second on a Walker Moriarty hit in the second and two in the third on a Taylor Mayer home run – the junior’s sixth of the season.
The power display continued in the sixth. With his team leading by just two runs, Dreher hit a two-run shot.
He did one better an inning later, driving in his fifth, six and seventh RBIs with another blast to give the Skiers some welcome breathing room.
“Yeah, that’s a big day,” Grinzinger joked.
The runs kept coming in Game 2 – for both sides.
Moriarty and Dreher both drove in runs with doubles in the opening inning. Coal Ridge answered right back in the bottom of the frame, when Robby Moore led off with a triple and came around to score on Rafael Fabela’s single. Korbyn Brown then squared the game with an RBI double.
Cole Ryan hit an RBI single, then a run scored on an errant pick-off throw in the second inning to give the Titans their first lead of the day.
The seesaw battle continued in the third, as Aspen’s Christian De La Cruz (single) and Zack Babich (double) drove in runs. After a run scored on a passed ball, Daniel Munger followed with a two-out, two-run single, stretching the lead to 7-4.
With two runners on and two Coal Ridge runs already in with one out in the bottom of the third, Grinzinger opted to go the bullpen to quell the threat. He called on ace Anderson Cole.
The senior delivered. After walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, Cole struck out two. In the fourth, he induced three fly-outs on nine pitches before being lifted for Moriarty.
The clutch performances weren’t limited to the mound. After Dreher’s RBI single in the fourth stretched the lead to two at 8-6, Babich launched a two-run homer.
“Zack has three homers this year, and they’ve all been game-changing,” Grinzinger said. “That really put the momentum back on our side.”
Coal Ridge (1-15 overall, 1-13 league) inched closer with RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the seventh, the Skiers seized control. Quinn Morehead drew a bases-loaded walk, Moriarty hit a two-run double and De La Cruz plated two with a single.
Cole Ryan’s double plated two during The Titans’ four-run seventh. They could pull no closer, however.
“This needed to happen,” Grinzinger said. “This is definitely a positive note to keep moving forward on. … Now we need to take one from Roaring Fork.”
The Skiers lead Gunnison (9-8, 7-8), which took two from Basalt in other action Saturday, by one game in the race for the Slope’s final playoff spot. Aspen could lock up a bid with a win against Roaring Fork on Monday in El Jebel (4 p.m.).
Mikaela Shiffrin did a lot of soul searching after she didn’t win a medal and didn’t finish three of her five individual races at last year’s Beijing Olympics after entering the games amid enormous expectations.