Can’t get the breaks

Durango makes plays with glove, bats to top Wildcats

One ground ball headed up the middle that was cut off and one big inning Friday turned things around for the Durango High School baseball team at Gary Thomas Field at Fruita Monument.

The Wildcats had Durango on the ropes with a 3-0 lead and the bases loaded with one out in the fourth inning. Fruita’s best hitter, Drew Bridges, hit a sharp grounder up the middle that was headed to center.

Durango shortstop Easton Garcia, though, made the play of the game, fielding the ball behind second and flipping it back to second baseman Connor Dugan for an inning-ending double play.

“If that ball gets through, it’s a different game,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said after the Demons scored one run in the fifth and seven in the sixth for an 8-4 Southwestern League victory.

“They’re a good team; they hit all the way through their lineup. They’re tough. They got the breaks in that inning that we didn’t get when we had our opportunities.”

The game was the first varsity game played at the high school in several years, and drew a good crowd, with parents settling into camp chairs or sitting on blankets on the concrete stands behind the plate and high school students working on their tans.

“Biggest crowd I’ve ever seen here, that was cool,” McLennan said.

With Suplizio Field still under construction and Colorado Mesa University playing at Canyon View Park this weekend, Fruita and Central played at their home fields, and Grand Junction will also play a handful of games at Bill Fanning Field at the school.

“It’s a little different. We had to prep the field and get it ready, which we’re not used to,” McLennan said. “We’re a little spoiled with the city taking care of us, but that’s all right. It’s good for our kids to do that.”

Friday was the first day the Wildcats had water available for the field, and it was getting a good soaking after the game.

“We’re pouring it on here,” McLennan said. “It’s better than it was, but it’s still hard. It’ll take us a couple of weeks. Usually we get so much water in the wintertime, by this time it’s perfect. You’re kind of hoping it gets a little harder, but that’s OK.”

After throwing four no-hit innings, Fruita starting pitcher Connor Ruckman ran out of gas in the sixth.

Mark Kobrin singled and took second on a wild pitch, then scored on a base hit by Danny Rowley, who took second on the throw to the plate. A walk was followed by a base hit by Marcus Sanson, with Rowley safe at third when Doran Wood pulled his foot off the bag too quickly.

After Ruckman gave up another single and hit a batter to load the bases, McLennan replaced him with Walker Williams.

A ground ball to third forced a runner at the plate, but Joe Keresey drove a low pitch into right field for two more runs in the Demons’ seven-run inning.

Fruita scored one in the sixth and Bridges, who crushed a three-run home run in the third, singled to lead off the seventh. McDermott walked, but Rowley got three straight fly balls to end it.

“Rowley did a great job; he did a nice job of battling back,” McLennan said. “It was one of those innings, a couple of flares, a couple of good hits and they tacked on some runs.

“It was a good high school baseball game. I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more if we had come out on top.”


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