Clutch performer

Weller's only hit lifts Central to victory in slugfest

Central’s Josh Weller was having a frustrating day at the plate Saturday at Canyon View Park. Weller was 0 for 4 with several flyouts to the outfield before connecting on a two-run double in the sixth inning in the Warriors’ 13-12 victory over Smoky Hill.

It wasn’t until Josh Weller reached second base after his double in the bottom of the sixth inning that he did the math.

Looking at the Canyon View Field scoreboard, which on Saturday was missing a light bulb on the home team’s run total, Weller added the innings to see just what his hit meant for Central.

“It wasn’t until I added two and two together that I realized,” Weller said.

He realized — after counting five 2s and one 3 — that his double had given Central a one-run lead. It also produced what would be the final score in Central’s 13-12 win over Smoky Hill.

Sure, Weller could have credited his ability to quickly turn on the inside fastball.

Instead, he gave credit to his first- and second-grade math teacher, Mr. Kramer, for his ability to do the addition — in the heat of the baseball game.

“Sure,” Weller said. “He can get the credit for it.”

Far from Weller’s mind during his final at-bat were the two shots he previously had drilled right at Smoky Hill outfielders.

Even further was the fact he was 0 for 4 from the plate.

Yet he laced the ball again. This time, he left the Smoky Hill left fielder airborne — and parallel to the grass — as the ball whizzed by his glove to the wall.

Finally for Weller, the ball went where the outfielders were not standing.

Two more runs scored during a game in which there were 25 runs and 34 hits.

Central’s Michael Price contributed to that hit total, going 3 for 5 with two triples and a double.

“We had to out-slug them,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “We had the mindset that we needed to win every inning.”

And so in boxing terms, if the innings were rounds, Central (6-4) won three and lost two.

But this one was decided by knockout.

In the top of the seventh inning, in came the freshman.

During a game of big hits and nonstop scoring, Jeremy Champlin put up one of the only zeroes on the scoreboard and recorded the save.

“I was a little nervous coming into the game,” Champlin said, “but I just wanted to come out throwing and do what I usually do.”

Price’s triple in the bottom of the fifth inning put Central ahead 10-7.

But Smoky Hill came back, taking the lead at 12-11 in the top of the sixth.

Once again, Central had to respond. Frank DiThomas led off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit, Nick Hill followed with a single to left field, and Weller put the Warriors ahead to stay with his drive to left.

“My mindset was just to forget the other at-bats,” Weller said. “He threw me a couple outside pitches, and I hadn’t been hitting the ball well on the outside. Then he came inside.”

Grand Junction 10, Montezuma-Cortez 7: Casey Burns hit a two-run home run in the first inning as Grand Junction held on to a 9-2, fourth inning lead.

Also for the Tigers (7-2), Sean Rubalcaba doubled twice.


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