Beating the best
Central trumps Montrose's ace with timely hits in key SWL victory
MONTROSE — After Central High School’s 10-5 Southwestern League baseball toppling of Class 4A No. 1 Montrose on Tuesday, there was a discussion regarding Jeremy Champlin’s RBI triple.
Champlin, who was 4 for 4 at the plate and a home run away from the cycle, banged a triple off the 396-foot sign in straightaway center field at Montrose High School.
Is that the hardest ball Champlin, listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, had ever hit?
With teammate Michael Price urging him not to lie, Champlin said it “probably was.” Coach Chuck Yost was much more blunt.
“I don’t know if he could hit a ball any further,” Yost said. “I mean, he put that one out there with a lot behind it, and he had good swings all day. He was focused in and that’s what you need against a team like Montrose. And a lot of guys had great swings today. I don’t how many two-out RBIs we had, but our guys putting the ball in play was a big difference.
“It was big, every time they scored runs in the bottom half, we were able to score runs in the top just to get momentum back. We never really let them take over the momentum of the game, which was huge. It’s the reason we won.”
Central put the ball in play against Montrose’s ace Tyrus Lopez. Central handed Lopez his first earned run of the season during a three-run second inning, capped by a bloop single from Champlin. Until that point, Lopez had gone 26 innings over five starts without giving up an earned run, striking out 45 batters in that span.
But Lopez was pitching on short rest, having tossed a complete-game shutout during the Indians’ 16-0 five-inning win over Durango on Saturday. His control, typically razor sharp, was suspect at times. Lopez walked four batters in three innings of work, giving up five runs, four earned, and striking out four.
At the plate, Lopez finished 2 for 3. Kam Devincentis aided the Indians with a double to the right-center gap.
Lefty Cameron LeBlanc threw three innings in relief and Jake Miller, throwing sidearm, gave up one run in the seventh inning.
“We weren’t sure who they were going to bring on the mound, but we knew that no matter who it was that we’d have to be ready,” Yost said. “They’re a good team, and they do have more than Lopez on the mound. While we like facing the best pitching, we knew we had to be ready no matter what.”
On top of Champlin having a big day at the plate, Cole Rupe and Trey Garcia both had multi-hit games. Rupe, batting eighth, went 2 for 4 with two doubles and Garcia was 2 for 4 with a double and a triple.
Michael Price went the distance on the mound, striking out eight, walking two and hitting two batters.
Price said although he struggled to settle in during the first inning, once he found his change-up, he felt his confidence peak.
“The first inning was really shaky and I was just losing my control a little bit,” Price said. “I settled down in the later innings and as I lost some of the velocity on my fastball, I started locating my circle change a little bit better and that helped me get guys out.”
Price said he relishes the opportunity to face Lopez.
“We want the best,” Price said. “We want to beat the best to show we are the best.”