Hotchkiss pounds Aspen, sweeps doubleheader
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL – In the top of the seventh inning in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Aspen, the high-powered Hotchkiss offense sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs.
Surprisingly, the Bulldogs had just two hits in the frame.
The Skiers, meanwhile, committed seven errors.
It was that kind of day for the home team. They routinely booted the ball all over the diamond on defense and appeared overmatched on offense against a dynamic, deep Hotchkiss pitching staff. Aspen committed a total of 12 errors and compiled just five hits in the two games – numbers that added up to losses of 15-2 and 8-2.
“We talked a lot about defense in between Games 1 and 2,” Skiers head coach Nate Grinzinger said. “We talked about making the conscious choice to play without hesitation. … [Watching us play] raised my blood pressure.”
The Aspen miscues began piling up early in Saturday’s opener. The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead with an unearned run and a RBI groundout in the first inning.
In the third, No. 2 hitter Cesar Macias padded the advantage with a towering home run to left off Aspen starter Jake Nugent. Macias was 3-for-3 and scored four runs in the opener.
The diminutive player was just as dominant on the mound. Macias retired the Skiers in order in the first three innings, striking out four straight during one stretch with a combination of well-placed fastballs and biting breaking balls.
In four innings of work, he surrendered just one hit – a single to Quinn Morehead – and allowed two Skiers to reach base.
Hotchkiss (7-0 overall, 6-0 3A Western Slope), which came in averaging more than 11 runs per game, had no such problems at the plate. It added a run in both the fourth and fifth innings, then tacked on two in the sixth – one on an error and one on a Macias double.
The Bulldogs seized control of Game 1 in the seventh. They had plenty of help from the Skiers, who struggled to make routine plays.
“Lamont [Gross] stepped in and was throwing solid. He was getting ground ball after ground ball after ground ball,” Grinzinger said. “It didn’t matter.”
Aspen (2-3) appeared to shake off the blunders, though. After Daniel Munger pitched a scoreless first inning in Game 2 – which included retiring Macias for the first time on the day – the Skiers took a
2-0 lead on Hotchkiss lefty Edgar Macias. Gross walked and scored on an error, and Quinn Morehead doubled home Christian De La Cruz.
The Bulldogs, ranked fifth in the latest Denver Post 3A poll, answered right back, however, with three runs in the second and one in both the third and fourth to pull ahead, 5-2.
Six Hotchkiss batters had at least one hit in Game 2.
“They’re a good ball club,” Grinzinger said. “They’re well coached and solid fundamentally.”
Aaron Leger hit a two-run single, then Russ Evans connected for a RBI double in the seventh, helping the Bulldogs pull away.
Aspen, which was without starters Taylor Mayer and Mike Willsky, went quietly down the stretch. It had just one baserunner in the final three innings and was retired in order in the seventh.
All told, Hotchkiss pitchers combined to strike out 25 Skiers and allow just one earned run in the two games.
Aspen will look to rebound Saturday, when they travel to Gunnison for a doubleheader with the Cowboys.
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