Cruising ‘Cats: Despite long layoff, Fruita breezes past Cortez

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Fruita Monument’s Shai Fullmer allowed only two hits in four innings Friday, pitching the Wildcats past Montezuma-Cortez 11-1.

The Fruita Monument High School baseball team always seems to be locked in and ready to go.

Friday, despite a nine-day layoff between games, the Wildcats (7-3, 1-1 Southwestern League) dispatched Montezuma-Cortez 11-1 in five innings at Canyon View Park.

“It’s been over a week, but this group always comes out ready to play,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “That’s what I like about them, we have great senior leadership, and we felt coming off of that Farmington (N.M.) tournament we were ready to play league games.”

Fruita’s focus was showcased on the mound as starting pitcher Shai Fullmer threw four innings, giving up one run on two hits. Fullmer hasn’t thrown since March 18, but kept the Panthers off-balance.

“Shai did a good job, he got his pitch count up, but he battled out there,” McLennan said. “He fought through some adversity and did everything we asked him to do.”

Fullmer improved to 3-0.

“I was really impressed with Shai,” Wildcats catcher Aaron Barger said. “His strength is his fastball, and it was on today.”

With Fullmer pitching well, the Wildcats’ offense showed no rust, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Drew Bridges and Dallin Wright both had RBI singles to give Fruita the early advantage.

The Wildcats added another run in the second inning when TJ Pollock hit an RBI single to score Jace Griffiths.

Pollock went 1 for 2, and walked, was hit by a pitch and scored two runs. Pollock also made a difference defensively at shortstop, starting off the game with a backhanded stop to get the Wildcats out of the first inning.

“This was a must-win game for us,” Pollock said. “If we have any hopes of winning the league we have to start today.”

The Wildcats closed the game in the fifth inning by scoring eight runs, propelled by a two-run single by Bridges. Barger ended the game with a three-run home run to left-center field.

“I thought we had chances early on to break it open, but sometimes in baseball it doesn’t happen,” McLennan said. “Our guys kept good intensity, kept preserving, and put it away with the big inning in the end.”

McLennan said he was impressed with the pitching of Wildcats reliever Jake Williams, who came in for Fullmer in the fifth inning. Things didn’t start well, as the first batter he faced, Chris Black, hit a line drive that glanced off Williams’ leg. The Fruita pitcher collected himself and got the out. Two batters later, Williams got Breen McComb to ground into a double play.

The Wildcats broke a two-game slide and look to carry that momentum into today’s game against Durango at 10 a.m. at Canyon View Park.

Windsor 13, Central 11: Central allowed the Wizards to score six runs in the sixth inning for its fifth straight loss. The Warriors’ starting pitcher, Dane Barslund, left with a 11-5 lead after the fifth inning, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.

“This one hurts the most because we gave up on ourselves,” Barslund said. “We let them come back after we jumped out early.”

The Warriors (1-6, 0-1 SWL) led 10-3 after the third inning, but Windsor brought in Trevor Okamoto in the fourth inning, who held Central to one run the rest of the way. The Warriors didn’t help themselves, committing seven errors.

Central plays Conifer at 1 this afternoon at Canyon View Park.


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