Outfield, mound gems get ‘Horns out of jam | AspenTimes.com
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Outfield, mound gems get ‘Horns out of jam

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
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CARBONDALE Basalt starter Rory Johnson cringed as a Roaring Fork batter lined his seventh-inning pitch into the outfield – until he realized who was patrolling center field.Teammate Colin Matheney charged the sinking line drive off the bat of Trevor Hunt and, with arms and legs fully outstretched, acrobatically gloved the ball inches from the grass. He jumped to his feet and fired a strike to first base to double up the Rams’ Oscar Beltran to end the game and preserve a 4-2 win – Basalt’s first in 3A Western Slope conference play.”He does things like this so often that you almost expect it, and that’s just not right,” Basalt coach Rick Ryan said. “He was flat out on that one.”The Longhorns (2-0) struggled to make contact against Rams starter Kyle Raaflaub for much of the game. But in the top of the seventh inning, Basalt capitalized on three clutch hits to pull ahead. Travis D’Anna, who struck out in his previous two appearances, lined a fastball to right-center for a double. Gustavo Hurtado, batting eighth, then lofted a soft fly ball just beyond the reach of Beltran at shortstop, scoring D’Anna.Hurtado advanced to second on Cory Summers’ sacrifice, then scored when Bryan Mason lined a two-out hanging curveball up the middle. “I would’ve been happy with one run,” Johnson said. “The guys at the bottom of the order really stepped up for us.”Johnson induced a flyout to open the bottom of the seventh. Leadoff hitter Beltran followed with an opposite-field single, and it looked as though Roaring Fork’s rally would continue when Hunt drilled a pitch during the ensuing at-bat.

Matheney, a first-team all-conference selection last year, had other ideas.

“I was a little scared when it came off the bat, but then I saw Colin,” Johnson said. “That was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. It was phenomenal.”So, too, was Johnson. Basalt’s ace scattered four hits and struck out nine in acomplete-game effort.

The Rams scored two to pull even in the third. Michael Black reached after Ryan Zubizarreta’s throw from third pulled Summers off the bag. Beltran singled to right and later advanced to second on Trevor Hunt’s groundout to first; Summers decided to touch the bag instead of throwing to second for the force-out. Tyler Hunt made the Longhorns pay when, with two outs, he lined a two-run single into right field.”I’ve learned the hard way in the past when I let errors frustrate me and wind up costing us the game,” Johnson said. “I tried to calm down, and I think I started to throw a little harder.”This was a big win for us, especially against one of the best pitchers in the league.”

Connor Rakowski scored on Tucker Hinchliffe’s sacrifice fly, and Bryan Mason, who doubled, scored on an error in the first. Raaflaub regrouped, holding the Longhorns hitless for the next five innings. He struck out 14, including one stretch when he fanned eight of 10. Seven of nine Basalt hitters struck out at least once.Raaflaub struck out two in the seventh but surrendered two pivotal runs. Basalt – and Matheney – made the lead stand.”There’s a ‘C’ on his chest for a reason,” Ryan said.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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