Dixon’s arm, bat lift Junction past Palisade
Ty Dixon was swinging at the plate and singing on the mound.
With the bases loaded, the senior left-hander popped a soft single to shallow left field to score Tyler Heinsma in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Grand Junction a walk-off 8-7 win in nonleague baseball Tuesday night at Suplizio Field.
“It found a place because the infield was playing in,” Dixon said. “I didn’t mean to do it, but I’ll take it.”
It was an odd seventh inning to say the least.
Leading 6-5, Dixon was cruising toward the win when he struck out the first two Palisade hitters. Then, he put the next two on with a walk and a hit batter.
That’s when Palisade’s Bobby DeSantis hit a pop fly that settled right in the middle of a triangle of Tigers behind second base. The hit scored two runs, and the Bulldogs had the lead at 7-6.
The Tigers rallied when Owen Taylor and Heinsma walked, then Taylor scored on an error to tie the game, setting up Dixon’s winning hit.
Dixon, who had three singles and scored a run, pitched a masterful 4 2/3 innings of relief. But he was leaving his pitches up early.
Cue Katy Perry.
“I try to keep my emotions in check. I actually sing on the mound sometimes,” Dixon said about how he keeps himself calm. “I sing some Katy Perry. It’s catchy, and I know it.”
And cue Tigers coach Donnie Alexander.
“(Dixon) came in and threw strikes,” Alexander said. “He struggled a little bit with the ball being up, and we talked about it, and we made an adjustment and got him refocused.”
The Bulldogs got to Grand Junction starter Kaleb Johnson in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead. After three straight walks, Troy Levinson ripped a two-run single to center. Cameron Campbell later followed with his own two-run single.
Palisade starter Tass Crow cruised through three innings, giving up only one single, but the Grand Junction bats came to life in the fourth when the Tigers put their own five-spot up on the scoreboard.
Taylor roped a line-drive to the center-field wall that plated two runs. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyson Zanski and Dillon Fante hit a two-run single to center to tie the game 5-5.
The game turned into a battle of relief pitchers with Luis Arevalo taking over for Palisade with two outs in the fourth. Both Arevalo and Dixon were effective.
Grand Junction took a 6-5 lead in the fifth after Taylor reached on an error and scored on a Zanski single.
Grand Junction finished with nine hits on the game, but Dixon was the only player with multiple hits.
Alexander said he saw some good things at the plate from his players.
“We struggled a little bit at the plate (in the last game), and we came out here the same, we were a little flat,” Alexander said. “I just told them keep swinging and stay with our approach, and good things are going to happen, and the game came back to us.”
Defensively, both teams made a number of good plays. Grand Junction had double plays in the first when first baseman Tristan Lafferty gunned down a runner at the plate, and in the fifth when Fante stepped on second and rifled a throw to first for the second out.
Crow made the play of the game in the field when he made a spectacular diving catch in center field for the first out in the seventh.