Nine-run first propels Aspen past Grand Valley |

Nine-run first propels Aspen past Grand Valley

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Aspen's Zach Maraziti slides in safely under the tag of Grand Valley third baseman Landon Paskett on Tuesday in El Jebel.

EL JEBEL ” Taylor Mayer didn’t bother making an excuse.

After sleeping through Tuesday’s 6 a.m. hitting session, the Aspen shortstop came clean when he met face-to-face with head coach Nate Grinzinger before boarding the bus to El Jebel.

“You owe me two hits,” Grinzinger said tersely.

The sophomore did that and more against Grand Valley. He led off the bottom of the first with a ringing triple off the outfield wall and came around to score the first of nine Skiers runs in the inning after an errant relay throw. He finished with two extra-base hits and drove in one as Aspen cruised to a 12-5 victory ” its sixth win in seven 3A Western Slope games.

“I told him he owed me, and he delivered,” Grinzinger said of Mayer. “He was a huge spark.”

Mayer scored twice during a first inning in which the Skiers sent 13 batters to the plate and jumped out to a big lead. Quinn Morehead singled twice to left and scored both times, and catcher Zach Maraziti stole four bases in the frame.

After reaching on a walk in his first at-bat, Maraziti stole second then, after advancing to third on Walker Moriarty’s RBI groundout, took off for home as Cardinals pitcher Jeremy Lawrence began his wind-up. Later, Dan Munger stole home to stretch the lead to five.

“Once we get going, it’s hard to stop us,” Mayer said. “Coach told us that [Grand Valley] was down … and that we could jump on them early and get them to fall apart.”

The Cardinals’ defense did just that, committing three errors that yielded four first-inning runs. The big blow came when Maraziti singled to center and the ball trickled under Emilio Ruelas’ glove, plating three Aspen runs.

Grand Valley committed seven errors in the game.

“That’s been the story of our year. We have a bad inning and it takes us out of the game,” Cardinals head coach Casey Coulter said. “This is a simple game, but we make it extra hard for some reason.

“I was proud they battled back. That’s something to build on.”

Cameron King doubled home two runs and Josh Swindell drove in one with a groundout to first for Grand Valley, which trimmed the deficit to six in the third inning. The Cardinals pulled to within 9-5 in the top of the fifth when Swindell hit an RBI single and Michael Kellebrew added a run-scoring fielder’s choice.

“We stopped playing. … I told the guys that if we played a better team, we probably would’ve lost,” said Grinzinger, whose team amassed just two hits after the first inning.

“We definitely got too comfortable,” Mayer added. “We need to stay in the game and finish the game.”

Mayer gave the Skiers some breathing room in the bottom of the fifth, driving in a run with a double to the wall in left. Christian de la Cruz scored on an error to stretch Aspen’s lead to 11-5.

Maraziti scored his second run of the game in the sixth after Cardinals catcher Tyler Radel’s attempted pick-off throw to third bounded out of play. Maraziti finished with two hits, two walks and five stolen bases.

Five pitchers combined on a four-hitter for Aspen, which faces rival Basalt at 3 p.m. today.

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