Despite good beginning, Central falls in season opener
The Central High School baseball team’s season got off to a great start on Thursday.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the remainder of their opening game didn’t go as smoothly.
After taking a 5-0 lead, Central’s bats went cold and its pitching couldn’t solve the mystery of Woodland Park’s bats as the Panthers rallied for a 14-7 victory on the opening day of the Bill Fanning Classic.
“That’s what this is about,” Central coach Chuck Yost said of his team’s learning curve through the nonleague season. “As long as you can improve every day, that’s what we’re looking at.”
Central returns only one starter from last year’s squad, and senior Travis Key was playing out of his normal catcher position.
After joining the baseball team for his first practice on Monday after the basketball team’s elimination from the Class 5A state playoffs last week, Key played third base in the opener.
The Warriors looked as if they were going to try to match Grand Junction’s 27-run output against Golden in Thursday’s first game at Suplizio Field, scoring five runs in the first inning.
Key had a triple to center field in his first at-bat of the season and Dylan Begg belted a two-run home run.
Central managed only six hits the rest of the way and struggled to string runs together to mount a rally.
The Panthers took the lead with a five-run fourth inning. At that point, Jerid Huggins came on in relief and held the Warriors to one run over the final 3 2/3 innings.
“I think their pitching was better (later),” Yost said.
John Woods threw the first three innings for Central. Sophomore Dane Barsland came on four batters into the fourth inning and struck out seven but gave up eight runs.
“Dane throws hard,” Yost said. “I’m really pleased with how he came in and pitched.”
Central looked sharp to start the game, but a couple of base running errors and three errors in the field in the final inning allowed the Panthers to pull away.
“It’s early in the year, (there’s) a lack of focus and a letdown (after the 5-0 lead),” Yost said of contributing factors to the loss.
Huggins, Zach Snider and Charles Jones had two hits apiece and drove in a combined five runs to aid the Woodland Park effort.
Central got good production at the plate from Begg, who had two hits, and from Scott Clow, who went 2 for 3. Key drove in three runs with his triple and a fielder’s choice.
Central will try to bounce back from the loss when it faces Golden at 10 this morning at Canyon View Park.