Bulldogs grind out a win

Offense bails out pitching in opener

As he heads to second base after hitting a double in the third inning Friday, Grand Junction’s Zach Cox watches the lead runner round third and head for home in the Tigers’ 18-10 victory over Greeley Central in the Bill Fanning Classic at Canyon View Park.

Normal winters in recent years have favored Palisade’s pitchers over its hitters to start the high school baseball season.

A stellar rotation has aided the Bulldogs year after year. But Palisade opened the season Friday at the Bill Fanning Classic with a grinding 12-3 victory over Rampart at Suplizio Field.

The two teams combined for 16 walks, eight errors and nine hits. Rampart scored all three of its runs in the second inning, but loaded the bases twice later in the game, mostly on walks.

“Our pitching, for some reason, is a little behind this year,” coach Steve Moore said. “Usually our pitching is ahead of our hitters. In the winter, we worked hard with our hitters. We got our fundamentals down in the winter. We can hit all the way down the lineup. I think we have 14 starters on the team.

“We do need to execute better, though. I think our pitchers walked too many people today, and we need better pitching. I thought Cameron (Campbell) did a heck of a job in relief.”

Cody Higman, who Moore said is the team’s ace, pitched well in the first inning but struggled with his control after that. Higman struck out two batters in the first inning, then walked three in the second. Moore said Higman is throwing his fastball in the mid-80 mph range, with the potential to throw harder.

“I thought Cody was overthrowing a little bit,” Moore said. “He was getting too fancy when he can just beat them with his power. He’s on a pitch count, obviously, and his ball is popping a little bit. He’s going to go through a dead-arm period here. Winning these games that he pitches are important, and he’s only going to get better.”

Catcher Caden Woods led the Bulldogs offensively, collecting two singles and a steal. Woods said most of the offseason hitting focus was player-generated and necessary because high school practice didn’t begin until last week. Every Sunday, the Bulldogs practice hitting without coaches.

“We’d try and find a batting cage or really any place to hit,” Woods said. “We’d be hitting anything. Soft toss, tees, underhand. We’ve just been working really hard for this, and we’re ready to play.”

Central 6, Greeley Central 5 (8): Central’s Frank DiThomas sent the game into extra innings with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh, and Kyle Serrano was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth to win it.

The Warriors’ Brandon Martinez led off the final frame with a walk and went to third when Josh Weller reached base on an error on his sacrifice bunt attempt. Greeley Central then intentionally walked winning pitcher Jeremy Champlin, who had three hits, to load the bases. Serrano was hit by the next pitch.

“It was nice to battle through and get a win,” said Warriors coach Chuck Yost, whose team concluded play in the Bill Fanning Classic with a 1-1 mark.

Fruita Monument 12, Horizon 4: The Wildcats (1-1) scored seven runs in the third inning to break open a game limited to five innings by rain at the Bill Fanning Classic. Dylan Row hit a two-run triple, and Gage Lovern followed with a run-scoring double in that frame.

Kelin Henke’s three-run double in the fifth concluded the scoring, and Colton Chamberlain earned the win on the mound with three scoreless innings of work.

Grand Junction 18, Greeley Central 10: Ty Dixon and Owen Taylor each had three hits as the Tigers opened their season with a win in the Bill Fanning Classic. Taylor had three extra-base hits and four RBI and Anthony Johnson had two extra-base hits and two RBI.

Grand Junction finished with 13 hits and drew 16 walks, making a winner of starting pitcher Josh Moore.


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