Tigers, Indians ready for SWL play to start

Grand Junction’s Steve Baldwin delivers last weekend during the Bill Fanning Classic at Suplizio Field. Baldwin and the Tigers face Southwestern League rival Montrose at 6 p.m. tonight at Suplizio Field.

The Southwestern League baseball title had to be decided by a tiebreaker last season and the two teams it came down to are scheduled to begin league play tonight.

Montrose and Grand Junction play each other 6 p.m. tonight at Suplizio Field, weather permitting. If the game is postponed, the teams will likely play Wednesday night, Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said.

Class 4A Montrose won its first league title in several years in a tiebreaker over Class 5A Grand Junction. The Indians are off to a 5-1 start this season.

“We’re improving,” Montrose coach Landon Wareham said. “We’re a long way from where we need to be and going to be. That’s natural when you start six or seven underclassmen.

“I think our kids are just trying to take it game by game. We don’t really talk about league championships or state championships. We concern ourselves with what we’re doing, especially with this young group. We’re not trying to put pressure on them.”

The Tigers (5-1) are off to a little better start than Kyle Rush may have expected, going 3-0 in the Bill Fanning Classic before winning two of three games on a trip to Arizona.

“We have a good group of guys hitting the ball well,” Rush said. “We’re trying to get (Stephen) Baldwin healthy (to pitch), but he’s not feeling great.

“If he’s healthy, he’s ready to go.”

Both teams figure to challenge for the league title again this year, but neither coach is going in believing tonight’s game will determine the league championship.

“I don’t think either one of us is looking at this game being for the league title,” Rush said. “Central, Fruita, Montrose and us are all winning baseball games and have guys that can throw.”

Central (5-1) and Fruita Monument (5-1) are off to just as good of a start as Grand Junction and Montrose. The Warriors and Wildcats begin league play next week.

“It’s kind of how I thought it would be,” Wareham said. “I knew it would be tough. Junction, Fruita and Central are all tearing it up. Durango is in the mix every year. Cortez had a little feel to them last weekend. It’s a tough league.”

The top two teams in the Class 4A Western Slope League last year, Palisade (2-3) and Delta (2-2), begin league play at 4 p.m. today in Delta.

Both teams have struggled to play consistently the first two weeks of the season.

Both teams played in the Delta/Montrose tournament last weekend against similar opponents.

Palisade defeated Alamosa 13-2 and lost to Carbon (Utah) 11-6. Delta defeated Alamosa 11-8, but lost to Carbon 17-0.


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