Extra-special win: Montrose rallies to top GJ, minus coach
One week after the Grand Junction High School baseball team defeated Montrose 4-1, both teams knew the rematch was going to be competitive.
But neither could have imagined what happened Tuesday at Canyon View Park.
The Indians scored five runs in the top of the 10th inning to defeat the Tigers 8-3.
“We knew we were going to have to keep battling until something broke open,” Montrose coach Landon Wareham said. “That’s as quality of a ballclub as you are going to face, but we did what we had to do.”
What both teams had to do was overcome plenty of adversity.
Montrose (13-1, 4-1, Southwestern League) had to play without Wareham from the sixth inning on after the second-year coach was ejected when he aggressively argued a play at the plate. The play in question came with the Indians leading 3-2, after Nate Robertson led off the sixth inning with a triple. After Roland McLaren grounded out to second base, Bryce Gaber hit a fly ball to Tigers left fielder Jayke Brock. Robertson tagged and looked to have plenty of time to make it home, but Brock made an accurate throw to catcher Aaron Berk.
Robertson slid in head first, and Berk appeared to make the tag, but the home plate umpire didn’t make a call.
“I knew no matter where the ball was hit, Nate was going,” Berk said. “I saw him go by me, and I knew I got him on the helmet, but the umpire just looked at me, and everyone was like tag him.”
After Berk applied a second tag to Robertson, who was trying to touch home plate, the umpire called him out.
Something Wareham didn’t agree with.
“That’s as bad as it gets,” Wareham said. “I saw our kid beat the ball by five feet.”
The play seemed to spark the Tigers (11-4, 4-2 SWL) in the bottom of the sixth inning as Charlie Reicks hit a two-out single. After Cory DeRush walked, Tim Gastineau hit a RBI single that scored Chandon Rose, who ran for Reicks.
“We had a lot of opportunities with someone in scoring position today,” Berk said. “We had to help out our pitchers.”
Reicks struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning, and everything seemed to be going the Tigers’ way. Andy Willett led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and went to third after a botched pick-off attempt by Gaber.
But with Willett on third, the Tigers had two straight outs. Looking to avoid extra innings, Willett attempted to steal home during Michael McGovern’s at-bat, but was tagged by Montrose catcher Tyler McCollum.
“We couldn’t drive a guy in,” Tigers coach Kyle Rush said. “We have not one person who’s wanting to win a game for us offensively.”
Both teams had runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings, but couldn’t capitalize. The Indians took control with a five-run 10th, led by a two-run single from Jeremy Storter.
“It’s frustrating that we can’t get the momentum going,” Berk said. “We can hit, and we have to finish strong.”
Because of Wareham’s ejection, he’ll be forced to sit out the Indians next game against Central on Friday.
“It doesn’t matter because the kids are playing their butts off,” Wareham said. “They’ll play hard no matter if I’m there or not.”
The Tigers will be off until next Tuesday against Central.
“I’m failing as a coach because we can’t win the tight game,” Rush said. “We have one game in the next 17 days, and I wish we could get out there tomorrow.”