Young Gene Taylor’s baseball team showing improvement

Gene Taylor’s head coach Dave Jahnke offers some pointers to his team during a recent practice. Gene Taylor’s has more younger players than normal, but Jahnke is happy his young charges have taken to the coaching. “The guys are really starting to focus on what we are talking about,” he said.

Improvement is the name of the game.

With players from three of the four District 51 high schools, as well as players from Montrose, the Gene Taylor’s American Legion baseball team (10-9), finally will play a home game.

The team plays a doubleheader against Pomona starting at 10 a.m. today at Canyon View Park.

“We’ve progressed pretty well, a lot better than we have in the past,” Taylor’s head coach Dave Jahnke said. “The guys are really starting to focus on what we are talking about and have really locked into what we’ve been trying to address.”

This is Jahnke’s first season as the head coach of Taylor’s, but he has been an assistant since the team was reinstated in 2007. The team plays against other 19-and-under competition, but this year’s group is younger than in the past. Gene Taylor’s has seven players entering their senior year or younger.

“We’ve always tried to get the younger kids to come out,” Jahnke said. “That way there is more carry-over from year to year.”

Fruita Monument’s Drew Bridges is one of the younger players having a good summer on the diamond. The Wildcats’ infielder/pitcher leads the team with a .524 batting average and 12 home runs.

“Drew is tearing the cover off the ball,” Jahnke said. “His 12 home runs I think is more than we’ve ever hit as a team in the summer.”

Bridges, who’s entering his senior year, has 30 RBI and a .610 on-base percentage.

Another younger player tasting success is Grand Junction’s Owen Taylor, who is second on the team with a .450 average. Taylor, who is entering his sophomore year at Grand Junction, is in his second year with Gene Taylor’s. Taylor didn’t play much last season but used the time around older players to gain experience.

“Last summer Owen got his feet wet,” Jahnke said. “But this year he’s come along nicely.”

Montrose’s Roland McLaren leads the team’s pitching staff with a 2.50 ERA and a 2-1 overall record. He has 21 strikeouts to only five walks this year.

Gene Taylor’s is entering the heart of its Colorado American Legion play. This weekend’s doubleheader with Pomona is part of the team’s six home games this year.

“We try to hit the tourneys early, then try to get some home games later,” Jahnke said. “Overall, we’ll have 40 games before our state tournament and it was about 25 when we started the team.

“We are inching to getting closer to 50 or 60 games, which is what everyone else does.”

Gene Taylor’s plays in the state tournament July 27-30 in Fairview. If they win that tournament, they move on to the American Legion Regional Tournament in Fairfield, Calif. The winner advances to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.


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