GJ’s Rubalcaba enjoying baseball
Sean Rubalcaba is no longer worried about what’s next.
What’s next is football at the University of Northern Colorado.
What’s now for the Grand Junction High School senior is baseball.
It’s not about playing for a scholarship or showing his athletic diversity or any other sort of self-promotion.
He’s just having a heck of a lot of fun being around longtime friends — one final season — and hitting a baseball with a bat.
Before Friday’s 7-0 win over Montezuma-Cortez, “Ruby” was hitting .633 — 38 hits in 60 at-bats.
He’s looking to up that average when Grand Junction (11-6, 4-3 Southwestern League) plays league-leading Durango at 12:30 this afternoon at Canyon View Park.
And for the week of April 19, ESPN selected Rubalcaba its player of the week for the Midlands region after going 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles in a 12-10 loss to Montrose.
“I’m just feeling loose,” Rubalcaba said. “My approach is just to hit the ball as solid as I can. And the ball is finding holes. Sometimes it goes your way.”
An incredible feat considering Rubalcaba did not pick up a bat for about seven months prior to this baseball season. He played football all summer and fall, and then basketball this winter.
“He’s just one of those kids who’s pretty special,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “He’s completely relaxed, not worrying about what he’s going to do the next four years of his life.”
Of course, it been this way a long time for Rubalcaba.
“He just catches on to anything,” said Sean’s sister, Shafer Rubalcaba, a sophomore at Grand Junction. “Even when he goes golfing with me, it’s the same. It’s just natural for him.”
Rubalcaba began the season 14 for 14.
It helped he had been lifting weights to be physically ready for college football. Now Rubalcaba is taking his last hacking goodbyes before heading to Greeley.
His said his most proud achievement in high school was winning the Denver Post Gold Helmet award, given to a senior football player for being a top-notch athlete, citizen and student.
On Wednesday, however, Rubalcaba was engaging in one of his final practices. Rush, hitting infield-outfield practice, ripped a low line drive down the third-base line.
“Uh, oh,” Rush said. “Base hit.”
But Rubalcaba took a pouncing first step to his right, nabbed the ball behind the foul line and, with the arm that led the Tigers football team to a Class 5A state quarterfinal berth, whipped the ball across the infield — touchdown.
“I’m just enjoying these guys,” Rubalcaba said, “because it would be awhile before we see each other again.”