Steamboat baseball chases winning season
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School baseball team entered the year having not beaten Battle Mountain since 2015.
The team won five total games in the two previous seasons, and that tends to to be the norm.
The Sailors are on a different course this year, and last weekend, they showed as much with a pair of statement wins against the Huskies.
Steamboat beat Battle Mountain, 9-7, then 12-4, setting themselves up with an 8-7 record. If the team can close its season on a high note, it could be the team’s first winning season in at least a decade.
“That would be huge,” coach Rusty McRight said this week. “That would be another stepping stone for them to understand they can achieve success. It’s just taking baby steps, a little at a time.”
The Sailors have been taking plenty of those steps this season, and they’ll try to take another Thursday as they travel to play at 2 p.m. on the road against Rifle. The game is a home game for the Sailors, but last week’s spring snow doused any hopes the team had of playing host to the Bears.
Steamboat currently sits fifth in the Western Slope League with a 3-6 record, and it will be gunning to close in on Rifle, fourth at 4-4.
It’s proven to be the kind of season for Steamboat where a leap like that just might be possible.
The team opened its season with back-to-back wins. It lost five in a row as it dove into league play but rallied to split a doubleheader with Eagle Valley, then swept Roaring Fork in a pair of games earlier this month. It lost to Rifle in the teams’ first meeting but blew by Moffat County, 19-7, last week. That was supposed to be the first of two games, but the second was snowed out.
Now, the team has three games to play, and it’s still searching for its top form.
“This season’s going very well,” McRight said. “We’re still making some mistakes we shouldn’t make. The difference this year is we’re overcoming those mistakes early and not letting them compile into something bigger.”
Strong performances from the pitcher’s mound and from the plate have powered that surge.
Quintin White, a senior, is leading the team from the mound with a 3.65 ERA and four wins. He picked up one of those against the Huskies, going seven innings while allowing two runs and five hits while striking out eight.
Alan Duty, a freshman, put in a strong start in the first game, striking out seven. Jack Boyle, another of the team’s top arms, finished it off to cap the win. The Sailors have also gotten a good spring of pitching from Ethan Johnson.
Johnson’s also been a leader at the plate. He’s one of seven Sailors in double digits this season for runs scored. He’s tallied 15 of those with 12 RBIs.
Theodore Hansen has 18 runs scored with nine RBIs and also leads the team with a 0.436 batting average and 21 stolen bases. Austin Ibarra has 16 runs with seven RBIs, Tanner Ripley 16 runs with six RBIs, Colter Gansmann 15 runs with nine RBIs, Duty 11 runs with 10 RBIs and Boyle 10 runs with 7 RBIs. White leads the team with 15 RBIs.
“In actuality, we should only have two losses,” McRight said. “We should be 13-2, but we have a lot of freshmen and only three seniors, so it’s a growing process.”
That growing process has started to pay off for the Sailors.
“It’s exciting for me to see the boys being excited,” McRight said. “We’re building a baseball culture, and the kids are slowly realizing just because they live in a mountain town and just because they don’t have all the resources to practice every day, they can compete.”
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