Diminished roster spells demise
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Blue Jackets baseball team struggled once again, falling to Hotchkiss 12-6 at Tommy V Field on Monday, June 8. Granted, the Blue Jackets were missing five starters for the game and it’s hard to win, let alone play, a full game to potential when you’re missing so many key players. As a result, several players were put in new spots or asked to play with injuries, including Joe Coburn who was asked to play catcher for the first time ever.
“That’s a tough thing to do, to get behind the plate,” says coach Michael Weil.
Hotchkiss has two of the top pitchers in the league but they opened with a younger pitcher and the Blue Jackets jumped at the opportunity. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning, Crested Butte scored three runs in the bottom of the opening inning paced by a lead-off single from Turner Petersen and a host of walks. Hotchkiss switched pitchers but Tate Young stepped up with the bases loaded and crushed the first pitch he saw to deep right field to drive in three runs and put the Blue Jackets up 6-1.
“That pitcher throws hard and he throws strikes and we just tell the guys all you’ve got to do is get the bat on the ball and it will go far,” says Weil.
After a shaky first inning, during which he mixed in a couple of strikeouts with a handful of walks, Blue Jackets pitcher Hunter Wright caught his rhythm in the top of the second inning, throwing strikes.
Young flagged down a pop-up to first base, Ryan Ellis made a running grab in center field to deny a ball bound for extra bases, and Wright struck out the next batter to hold their 6-1 lead.
Primed to tack on more runs in the bottom of the second, the Blue Jackets came up short when they suffered a base-running miscue that turned into an inning-ending double play.
Wright and the Crested Butte defense had another solid outing in the top of the third, turning two outs and a strikeout while giving up only one run, but their bats fell silent and then the wheels fell off in the top of the fourth.
A series of passed balls, walks and base hits gave up four runs before the coaches pulled Wright and put in Toby Goldberg. Wright finished the day, only his second time pitching, with six strikeouts.
“I thought Hunter pitched well. I think he just got tired,” says Weil. “We were just trying to get him to work through it.”
Troubles continued though and Hotchkiss managed to add six more runs to build an 11-6 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Crested Butte’s offense continued to struggle against the Hotchkiss pitcher and Hotchkiss added a run in the top of the fifth. Seve Petersen stepped to the mound and did what was needed, threw strikes, and the Blue Jackets defense shut Hotchkiss down.
“I thought Seve pitched excellent. He doesn’t throw hard but he throws strikes,” says Weil. “That’s what we want—put the ball in play, don’t walk people and we will make the plays.”
But Hotchkiss brought in their closer, and he fanned three Blue Jackets in a row to seal the 12-6 Hotchkiss win.
“We ended up giving up runs on so many errors,” says Weil. “We basically had one bad inning and we’ve got to figure out how to get rid of that.”
The Blue Jackets host Gunnison on Friday, June 12 at Tommy V Field at 6 p.m. and then remain at home to play a doubleheader against Surface Creek at Tommy V Field on Sunday, June 14 starting at 11 a.m.