DENVER – The Archie Hay Post 24 American Legion baseball team traveled to Denver on Monday for the start of the 2019 Top of the Rockies baseball tournament.
On Monday, Rock Springs dropped its first game against Premier West, but finished the night with a dominating win over Chatfield. On Tuesday, the Sand Puppies continued to find success after defeating Legacy and rallying from behind to knock off Greeley West.
ROCK SPRINGS 16, CHATFIELD 2
After losing a close game to Premier West in the tournament opener, the Sand Puppies wrapped up Monday night with a dominating 16-2 win over Chatfield. In the first two innings alone, Post 24 ran up the scoreboard 15-0. Chatfield tried to rally back, but Rock Springs added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning to close out the game with a 14-point victory.
Destry Stevenson grounded out for the first out, but it didn’t take long for the Sand Puppies to recover. At the very next at bat, Drew Grossnickle tripled on a line drive to give his team a runner in scoring position. A few pitches later, Grossnickle scored on a passed ball, giving Rock Springs its first run of the day.
Two batters and two outs later, Domanik Gunyan walked, giving the Sand Puppies two runners on with one in scoring position. Caden Anderson, Dylan Schultz and Ryan Powers got on base after Chatfield’s pitcher allowed two walks and a hit by pitch. With the score 4-0, Bobby Sains gave the Sand Puppies even more life after hitting a single to center field. This hit allowed both Schultz and Powers to score while sending Ross to second base.
With a commanding 6-0 lead, Rock Springs tried to keep going, but after five pitches, Stevenson grounded out to end the inning.
Going into the bottom of the first inning, not only was the Sand Puppies offense firing on all cylinders, but so was the defense. After a quick strikeout by Anderson on the mound, Schultz and Gunyan ended the inning after catching back-to-back pop outs to keep the score at 6-0.
Going into the second inning, Grossnickle got things going again after being walked with four-straight balls. He stole second and advanced to third after error by Chatfield’s second baseman. Two pitches later, Martinez singled after hitting a line drive out to center field, allowing Grossnickle to bring the score to 7-0.
Two batters later, and with zero outs, Anderson singled on a fly ball out to left field. This drove in Martinez from third and kept Chatfield’s defense flustered as the score was 8-0. On the next at bat, Schultz brought in Hamblin after hitting another single out to center field. With the score 9-0, Powers grounded out for the first out of the inning but he brought home Anderson. Still with only one out, Ross kept Rock Springs going with another line drive single, bringing in both Anderson and Schultz for a 12-0 lead.
Ross gave the Sand Puppies their sixth score of the inning after Stevenson grounded out for the second out. Grossnickle kept momentum going and hit another single. Sains raced across home plate and gave Rock Springs its final run of the inning.
Going into the bottom of the third, Chatfield started to see some life. Anderson, who was still on the mound of for Rock Springs, gave up four singles and two walks. This allowed Chatfield to score its only two runs of the game.
Rock Springs used the top of the fifth inning to get back into shape. With only one out and two runners on, Ross grounded out for the second out, but not before Anderson raced across home plate, Sains drove in the final run after hitting a single out to center field. Grossnickle tried to keep the inning going, but after lining out to center field, Chatfield’s defense stopped the bleeding.
With the score 16-2, Chatfield’s offense did everything it could to keep the game going, but the Sand Puppies defense got the best of them. In only four batters, Rock Springs got the three outs it needed to close out the game with its first win of the tournament.
ROCK SPRINGS 6, LEGACY 1
Following Monday night’s big win, Rock Springs opened up Tuesday with another impressive win. Throughout four innings of play, the Sand Puppies scored five runs before allowing Legacy its only score in the the top of the fifth inning. Rock Springs added one more run in the bottom of the fifth before closing out the game with its second-straight win.
After holding Legacy scoreless in the first inning, Stevenson got things going for the Sand Puppies. His lead-off walk put some early pressure on Legacy’s defense. Two batters later, Jayce Coughlin singled on a fly ball to right field, allowing Stevenson to score the first run.
With only one out in the bottom of the second, Legacy’s pitcher gave up four-straight walks. This allowed D’Andre Ricks and Anderson to cross home plate, giving Rock Springs a 3-0 lead. With Schultz still in scoring position, Sains stepped to the plate but grounded out into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Rock Springs capitalized on Legacy’s struggling pitcher. With two outs and the bases loaded, Shawn Murphy was hit by a pitch, bringing in Schultz for a 4-0 lead. With the bases still loaded, Grossnickle scored on a wild pitch, bringing the score to 5-0. Legacy’s pitcher finally found some relief after Martinez grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Stevenson gave up two singles and a walk from the mound. Near the end of the inning with two outs and two runners on, Stevenson struck out the final batter to end the inning up 5-1.
Going into the bottom of the fifth, Ricks quickly got things going after being hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Anderson singled on a line drive to left field, sending Ricks to third base. Schultz was walked, loading up the bases for Rock Springs yet again. With three runners on, Legacy’s pitcher tried to get out of the inning alive, but couldn’t. He walked Stevenson, bringing in Ricks for the final score of the game. Following Stevenson’s at bat, Legacy’s defense got two-straight outs to end the inning.
Going into the top of the sixth inning, neither team could find success on offense again. Legacy tried to get back in the game, but the Rock Springs defense only allowed one base runner on in the final two innings.
ROCK SPRINGS 7, GREELEY WEST 4
Going into its final game on Tuesday, Greeley West held a 3-0 lead going into the top of the fourth inning. However, Rock Springs rallied with seven runs in the final four innings to win the game 7-4.
Following a great double play by the Rock Springs defense in the bottom of the first, Greeley West capitalized on a passed ball to lead 1-0. Two innings later, with Powers still on the mound for the Sand Puppies, Rock Springs opened up the inning with two-straight walks and an error.
Fortunately, when it came time for the fourth batter of the inning, Rock Springs came up with another beautiful double play. However, with only two outs, Greeley West brought in another run for a 2-0 lead. Powers gave up another single, bringing the score to 3-0. This would be the final run of the inning before Powers forced the next batter to ground out to Ricks at first base.
In the top of the fourth inning, Rock Springs finally started to show a spark again. Greeley West’s pitcher opened with two-straight walks and later hit Ricks at the plate to load the bases. With three runners on, Gunyan stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in Anderson to score. With the lead halved two and with only one out, Hamblin singled on a line drive out to fight field. Martinez ran home for a 3-2 score.
Rock Springs tried to keep its intensity going, but Greeley’s defense quickly got the two outs it needed to end the inning. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Sand Puppies defense and pitching began to click. Rock Springs didn’t allow a single base runner to get on before ending the inning with three-straight outs.
Going into the top of the fifth inning, Murphy opened with a trip to first base after an error by Greeley’s shortstop. Coughlin’s sacrifice bunt advanced Murphy to second base with only one out. With a runner in scoring position, Anderson hit a hard ground ball single, allowing Murphy to get to third base safely. Still with only one out, Martinez hit a bomb out to right field. His triple not only brought home both Murphy and Anderson, but it gave the Sand Puppies a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Greeley West tied things back up at 4-4. However, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Sand Puppies came alive with three more runs. With two runners on and only one out, Grossnickle hit a hard ground ball and reached base after an error by Greeley’s shortstop. On that same error, Stevenson advanced to third base, while Ross raced home to give the Sand Puppies a one-run lead.
Murphy grounded out for only the second out, but not before Stevenson scored to give his team a 6-4 lead. Sains tried to keep the momentum alive, but before flying out to end the inning, Grossnickle scored on a passed ball to bring the score to 7-4.
Greeley did everything it could to get back in the game, but Rock Springs didn’t give up a single base runner in the final two innings. In the bottom of the seventh inning alone, Powers had two strikeouts and a fly out to give his team its third-straight victory.