Rangely stops Aspen in playoffs
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Rangely flame-thrower Luke Scott shut the door on the Aspen High baseball team’s season Friday, and Rangley topped Aspen 6-1 in second round of the 3A Western Slope playoffs.
Playing in front of hostile Rangely fans, Aspen tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer from junior centerfielder Nick Farrell. Senior Eddie Monge, who pitched a complete game shutout against Olathe Tuesday to advance to Friday’s contest, threw another complete game gem Friday. Monge allowed seven hits, three walks and four earned runs, and registered nine strikeouts.
“We rode him as far as we could,” said Aspen coach Rick Ryan.
Aspen unraveled in the bottom of the fifth inning, committing two of three errors on the day that Rangely converted into four runs. Trailing 6-1 in the top of the seventh, the final inning, Aspen managed to load the bases with no outs before Scott, who throws 90 mph, took the mound.
“He shut us down,” said Aspen coach Rick Ryan. “But we went out playing some good baseball. They beat us. We didn’t beat ourselves.”
Aspen’s best opportunity came in their first at bat, loading the bases with just one out. “Then we had two guys hit line drives that Rangely outfielders made diving catches on,” Ryan said. “If either of those had fallen, it’s a totally different ballgame. But we left 10 guys on base and you just can’t do that and win against a team like this.”
Aspen concluded the 2002 campaign at 8-13, following a dismal 2-10 start.
“It was a bit of a victory to win that first playoff game [3-0 over Olathe] and then to play well” at Rangely, Ryan said. “It was a very hostile environment; vicious. Our outfielders just got chewed up by their fans. It wasn’t pleasant – you’d think we were arch rivals – but we kept it together.”
“With basketball overlapping with baseball and the snow, we’re always playing our best ball at the end of the season,” Ryan said. “It comes down to time of the field and we can’t get it early. If it was still the midseason, we’d be tremendous.”
Five of Aspen’s players received 3A Western Slope League all-league honors. For the third straight year, Monge was named first-team all league. Junior shortstop Josh Lackey received his second appointment to the first team, and senior Jeff Brence was selected for the first time.
Farrell received honorable mention, along with junior Pete MacKellar.
“We’ll have eight seniors next year, but we won’t have Eddie. We’ve got to figure that out,” Ryan said.
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