‘Anything can happen’
Wildcats scoop up wild win over Durango
The final play of Fruita Monument High School’s 18-17 Southwestern League baseball win Friday over Durango nicely summed up the entire game.
First baseman Cuba Bess teetered with his weight over his front leg and awkwardly used two hands to scoop up a short throw from Chad Goodrich seconds before the Wildcats poured onto the field in celebration.
“Cuba made a nice play there, and really it was the whole game for us,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “It was sloppy for us, but we competed through it and won the game.”
Between the Wildcats and Demons, there were 30 hits, 10 errors and seven different pitchers. Fruita Monument starting pitcher Devon Canup was chased after one inning, and Durango starter Sam Wiley imploded in the fourth, hitting five straight batters. Both teams struggled to gain an edge.
Durango (4-3, 0-1) opened with four runs in top half of the first, and the Wildcats (6-4, 3-0 SWL) answered with seven runs in the bottom of the second. Grant Stagg, Gabe Treider, Dylan Row and Sam Graf all hit singles before Luke Goodrich lofted a sacrifice fly. Then Bess provided some power, banging a two-run double off the far side of the high wall in left field, less than a foot from being a home run. Chad Goodrich singled to cap the scoring.
The Wildcats kept the lead until the top of the fourth inning, when Durango scored 11 runs, and Fruita Monument committed the majority of its six errors.
Fruita scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings before Durango scored two of its own in the top of the sixth to give the Demons a 17-11 lead.
Six of the first seven batters singled for Fruita Monument to open the bottom of the sixth inning. The eventual game-winning run scored on an error when Conner Cronkhite hit a line drive up the left field line that glanced off the left fielder’s glove.
Conner Harmon picked up the win for the Wildcats, pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief. Jacob Worth threw the seventh inning for the save.
Goodrich led the Wildcats with three hits and four RBI. Bess added two hits, including a double, three RBI and scored three runs. All but one starting player for the Wildcats had a hit, and every player who entered the game reached base safely at least once.
“We didn’t fold,” McLennan said. “I’m really proud of the way our guys played today.
“I’ll tell you what, we’re down there 4-0, and we watch Devon get knocked out of the game. Sam comes in, and he shuts them down for awhile, but then he gets knocked out of the game. That’s a great baseball team over there, and those first five hitters they’ve got, they’re good. They’re really good.
“But our kids did what they needed to do. They did what they needed to do to keep scoring runs and keep competing through that game.”
McLennan said the Wildcats have developed mental toughness during the past two weeks, something that will help them as they continue through league play.
“We try to just keep playing,” he said. “We talk all week long about being tough. And these kids have had so much adversity thrown their way with, first, the bags beings stolen off the bus in Farmington, then to the crazy game in Farmington and the game against a good Uintah team, to this game. We talk about being mentally tough, and I think everyone saw what these kids have today.
“We just kept coming at them, and we thought we could keep playing and chip away at the lead they had, that we could give ourselves a chance at the end of the game.
“High school baseball is a funny game where anything can happen, and tonight it happened for us.”