Central rebounds from loss Tuesday to top Conifer

Travis Key is safe at first base after a high throw gets past the Conifer first baseman at Canyon View

The best way to get over the frustration of a loss is to win.

Central High School’s baseball team followed up an 11-7 loss to Montrose on Tuesday with a 11-6 win Wednesday over Conifer at Canyon View Park.

“We were just trying to get some confidence back after (Tuesday’s) poor performance,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “We knew we were a better baseball team, and we just had to come and prove it to ourselves.”

The Warriors improved against Conifer in every facet of the game — beginning with taking the lead early, which they didn’t do against Montrose.

Behind five runs in the second inning, the Warriors (7-4, 0-2 Southwestern League) jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The big second inning was propelled by extra base hits — Travis Key, Dylan
Begg and Holden Reed all hit triples. Central cleanup hitter Spencer Hicks drove in a run in the five-run inning with a single. Hicks didn’t stop there as he kept the Warriors offense rolling all day, going 3 for 4 with three RBI.

“We wanted to come out and play well,” Hicks said. “We tried to get back on track, and it was big to get the win.”

Central also improved on the seven errors in Tuesday’s game, committing only one error against the Lobos.

“Cutting down on errors was a big focus at the beginning of the game,” Hicks said. “We only had one, and it didn’t cost us a run.”

The Warriors had a better performance on the mound. Alex Kitzman and Dane Barsland combined to allow the six runs but got outs when they needed to, and never allowed more than two runs in an inning. Kitzman earned his first win of the season.

“It was a better game for us overall,” Yost said, “We made routine plays in the field we didn’t make (Tuesday).”

  Central will next travel to the four corners to take on Durango on Friday and Montezuma-Cortez on Saturday.

“This win was huge for us because we are still young and inexperienced,” Yost said. “So we need every bit of help heading into this weekend because those are going to be tough games to win.”

Fruita Monument 13, Conifer 0

The Wildcats had no hangover from Tuesday’s loss to Grand Junction, pummeling Conifer for 13 runs on 10 hits in five innings.

Fruita (7-4, 1-1 SWL) put together a six-run first inning, sending 10 men to the plate.

Junior shortstop T.J. Pollock started the onslaught with a double to right-center field and scored on senior Brackett Mays’ fielder’s choice. Mays had two RBI despite going hitless.

“We needed to play a game like this after last night,” Wildcats coach Ray McLennan said.

“Every time you have a heartbreaker, it’s kind of nice to come back and get a win like this.”

The offense chased Lobos starter Devon Riley after senior Alex Mende capped a three-run third inning with a blast to right-center that ended with the Wildcats’ 10th run of the game crossing the plate and Mende standing on third.

“He ripped that triple and almost broke that all the way there,” McLennan said of his senior.

“He had a good day, and he’s been hitting the ball hard for the last couple weeks.”

Mende also stole two bases, one in each of the first two innings. The Wildcats stole seven bases in the game.

Cody Bell had a two-run double and walked twice, and David Witsken had two singles and drove in a run.

The Wildcats return to Southwestern League play this weekend, playing at Montezuma-Cortez on Friday and at Durango on Saturday.

Kelan Donahue contributed to this report.


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