Black Diamonds crushed in playoff final
Special to the Daily
Week 6 marked a coming to an end for the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds Baseball Club. It was playoff time in the Mountain West College Baseball League, and, like in any sport, playoffs means survival of the fittest.
Round One: Eagle Valley Eagles
In their first round opener, No. 3 Summit took out No. 6 seed Eagle Valley 14-4 in 6 innings at Frisco’s Peninsula Park. The blowout was a surprise as the teams had split their season series 3-3.
In the 3rd inning, Summit took their first lead off a pair of homers from Grant Perry and Matt Beasely. The two dingers, and a solo shot from Logan Bima in the 4th, would put Summit up 6-4.
In the 5th, SBD continued their offensive onslaught with homers from Thomas Debonville, Nick Roubidoux and a second homer from Matt Beasely that pushed their lead to 11-4.
Chances of Eagle Valley recovering to win were already slim at this point but in the 6th was when Summit really put the final nail in the coffin. MacMurray College’s Nick Balkenbush hit a leadoff double, which was then followed with a 2-run homer from Cain Sauls. Ranger Junior College’s Matt Beasely stepped to the plate next with an opportunity to collect his third homer of the game and deliver a final knockout blow to the Eagles. With one deadly swing, he sent a 1-0 pitch deep over the left field fence, which gave Summit a 14-4 win with the mercy rule in-effect.
None of it couldn’t have happened without the stellar pitching from Summit ace Joe Cominsky. The East Stroudsberg hurler completed six full innings with four strikeouts, two walks and only five hits allowed.
“I just felt it today,” he modestly explained. “It definitely takes the pressure off when guys are getting a bunch runs.”
Summit finished the game with a jaw-dropping eight home runs. Beasely’s third of the game gave the Texas native 17 on the year.
Round Two: Glenwood Springs Geckos
Summit advanced in the winner’s bracket to play Glenwood Springs on Tuesday. In a complete contrast to Monday’s scoring spree against EV, Summit scattered only five hits in a 2-1 loss to Glenwood. The game featured an exciting pitcher’s duel between Summit’s Stephen Coelho and the Gecko’s Bryce Johnson, who combined for a total of 13 strikeouts throughout.
Glenwood struck first in the 1st, taking a 1-0 lead off a Summit fielding error. In the 2nd, the Diamonds evened the score when a Chad Pigg RBI singled home Nick Roubidoux from second. Johnson would hold tough on the mound though, and pinch-runner Collin Antoine was stranded at second with the innings’ final out.
The Geckos took the lead back in the bottom of that frame when Glenwood’s Tanner Nieslanik scored off a RBI double from Xavier Trujillo. It would prove to be a fatal blow as Summit could score no more for the remainder.
Coelho’s best performance of the year went to waste, allowing just one earned run with five strikeouts, two walks and only four hits. After giving up what would be the go-ahead run in the 2nd, he pitched five innings of hitless ball with no runners reaching scoring position.
“It was definitely disappointing. Their pitcher had a great game, but I think we may have been too amped up early, which caused us to fall behind in our counts,” said Coelho of the team’s hitting woes.
Whether it was poor Summit hitting or not, Glenwood’s Johnson pitched a gem, with eight strikeouts, no walks and only 107 pitches thrown.
“He just made us beat him … give him credit, we were waiting for a mistake pitch, and he just didn’t make any,” said Coach Nick Eversole.
Round Three: Steamboat Springs Storm
With the season on the line and the two strongest offenses squaring off, Wednesday’s rubber match at Peninsula Park would prove to be a high-scoring barrage like few other. Unfortunately, this barrage was not to Summit’s favor, as Steamboat eliminated the Black Diamonds with their 19-11 win.
After trading runs in the 1st, the Diamonds broke the game open in the 2nd, taking an 8-4 lead off an Ahlstrom grand slam and Beasely RBI.
But in the 3rd, an all-too-familiar theme reared its head once more for SBD. Many of Summit’s losses this year occurred because of a single blow-out inning, and, on Wednesday, this was once again the case. The Storm would notch 11 runs in that fateful 3rd to take a commanding 15-8 lead. Summit simply couldn’t stop the Storm, putting out three different pitchers before finally getting a third out.
“Just nothing was going our way … we were walking guys, hitting guys … it was just one of those innings where just couldn’t find a way to get an out … I mean they batted around (the order),” said a frustrated Eversole.
The Summit bats would then go cold and by the 7th, the Storm had increased their lead to 19-8.
As dark-hued clouds circled above, accenting the typhoon of runs that the Storm were already showcasing on the field, it seemed that the baseball gods were saying ‘no more’ to SBD’s Cinderella-like season. However, Summit wouldn’t go out with a fight just yet.
A Debonville single and a 3-run shot from Matt Beasely brought the Diamonds back to life-down only 8 runs with no outs. It was Beasely’s league-leading 18th homer, but, unfortunately, it would be his last of the year, as the comeback started to lose its wheels shortly after.
Grant Perry’s pop fly was caught for the final out with a gentle ‘thwap’ of the glove thus bringing to an end a season of great excitement in Summit County. Although it may have ended in disappointing fashion for Summit (15-16), the team had some amazing wins and brought a level of excitement for baseball rarely seen in the county before.
“It was just so fun having these guys around, they’re all great players; and, even more importantly, I think they really connected with the community,” said Bill Falcone of Silverthorne.
Many players and Eversole have vowed to return for next season, and the team should improve with more experience under their belts.
“You saw every guy improve in some way with their game … I did as a coach and the players just really enjoyed being here … they made connections for life,” said Eversole.
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