Wildcats beat the elements, Greeley Central

Two other Bill Fanning Classic games canceled because of weather

Apparently there is a near-infinite amount of dirt that Fruita Monument baseball coach Ray McLennan can summon to patch Gary Thomas Field at Fruita Monument High School.

While Saturday’s other two games in the Bill Fanning Classic were canceled, Fruita was able to start shortly after its 10 a.m. scheduled time and edge out Greeley Central 9-3 in 4½ innings after a last-minute venue change.

Suplizio Field was swamped with rain and snow Saturday morning, so McLennan decided to play at Fruita while the rest of the tournament was canceled.

“We came out, and our field was dry,” McLennan said. “We took (batting practice), they called it about 8:30 (a.m. at Suplizio), and we said, ‘Shoot, let’s come play it here.’ It was slick at times, and we had to keep patching the mound up.

“We were worried about player safety. The umps checked it out, and conditions were safe, so let’s play. We don’t get to make this game up.”

The pitcher’s mound, in particular, repeatedly had to be fixed throughout the game. The front-foot landing was ankle-deep mud at times, and the mud was sticking to the players’ cleats. Starting pitcher Grant Stagg said the venue change affected him more than the mound.

“It was pretty slippery, and my cleats were getting mud on them,” Stagg said. “It wasn’t that bad, though. We were supposed to play at Suplizio first, and then right before the game it moved over here.”

The Wildcats, who lost to Rampart on Thursday and beat Horizon on Friday, are happy with the 2-1 start, especially after the program lost five seniors to graduation last spring.

“A day like today, crazy stuff can happen,” McLennan said. “I feel like today we did a good job of managing the weather and the situation and did what we do best.

“Everything is still coming together. Anytime early in the season you don’t know what you’re going to get, and coming out of this with two wins was great.”

McLennan said his pitching staff has some questions to be answered, including who will lead it.

“Colton Chamberlain is a power pitcher, throws hard and has a good breaking ball,” McLennan said. “Kale Smith is kind of like a Greg Maddux. He paints corners and throws strikes. He’s not going to overpower you, but he’s going to come at you. We’ve got a couple sophomores that could fall into line. We’re just seeing what happens.”

■ Grand Junction’s game against Rampart was canceled, as was Palisade’s game with Horizon.


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