DeRush’s bunt sparks GJ’s offense in victory
After poking a bunt into the no-man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and third base, Grand Junction’s do-everything second baseman and No. 9 hitter, Derek DeRush, narrowly beat a throw to first base from the Rangeview third baseman.
With the bases loaded and no outs, the crowd and dugout got louder, and suddenly the Tigers had life.
“I wanted him to bunt it just to move guys over,” Tigers coach Donnie Alexander said. “He put down a fantastic bunt and was able to beat it out, and it was a real spark for us. It was a spark in a tough game where the elements were brutal. The wind was really, really bad.”
For the second day in a row, the Grand Junction bats awoke in the second half of the game, this time netting a 15-8 win over Rangeview that kept the Tigers undefeated.
Three hits, two walks and two balks after the DeRush bunt, the Tigers were in control. Kaleb Johnson slammed a triple with the bases loaded during a seven-run fourth inning. But for the second game in a row, the Tigers didn’t notch a hit until the third inning.
“I’m not quite sure why it takes so long for them to get going,” Alexander said. “I’m glad when they finally do turn it on, but it’d be nice to have it one through seven. But they did battle, and the results came out on our side.”
The Tigers drew nine walks during the game. Walks, wild pitches and a hit batsman gave Grand Junction a three-run first inning. Owen Taylor drew three walks in a 1-for-2 afternoon. It was his first game without an extra-base hit but also his first multi-walk game.
“We’ve come out with the same approach every day with wanting to put the ball right back up the middle,” Taylor said. “With the weather conditions it was terrible. We were able to get over that hump and start putting runs on the board. We just have to keep the same approach, and the runs will come.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers are waiting for more pitchers to emerge. Outside of Josh Moore, who has pitched 18 2/3 innings and started four of the five games this season, few others have thrown innings.
“We need to get more reps,” Alexander said. “I don’t know if we need to throw more bullpen or what. Josh has been a real workhorse for us, and the other pitchers have kind of forced that, where he’s having to take a lot of the innings.
“We’re going to have a stretch of three games in four days in Arizona and something like three in eight days when we’re back, where we’ll have to throw some of these other guys.”
The Tigers travel to Arizona on Monday for the Coach Bob Invitational. Alexander said the tournament will be useful to gauge the Tigers against quality national opponents.
“It’s going to be good to get these guys out and see some different competition,” Alexander said. “Over here in the Valley, we’re kind of in a fishbowl. But there’s a whole big baseball world out there, and it will be good for our guys to see how they match up player to player.
“Everything is pitch-to-pitch here. One pitch, clear it, one pitch, clear it. We’re just focused on going to Arizona and working game to game.”