Strong first inning carries GJ to win in Bill Fanning Memorial Classic opener
The Grand Junction High School baseball team didn’t have to worry about its offense shaking off any rust Thursday morning at Suplizio Field. The Tigers’ pitching and defense were spotty for the first game of the season, but a six-run first inning carried Grand Junction to a 7-5 victory over Horizon at the Bill Fanning Memorial Classic.
The Tigers (1-0) committed three errors in the first three innings and the Hawks (0-1) had only one hit in that span. By the fourth inning, Horizon had trimmed a six-run deficit to 7-4. That big first inning stood up, though, and Grand Junction coach Justin Little said he was happy with the early outburst.
“I thought that it was going to give us momentum, but we kinda slowed down in the middle part of the game and at the end,” Little said. “Seeing them come out like that, I was happy. They’re hitting the ball well and for the first inning of the first game, you can’t ask for more than that.”
The first six batters the Tigers sent to plate reached base, five with hits, and they batted around the lineup.
Down 1-0 entering the bottom of the first inning, Nick Arcieri spun a leadoff double off the end of his bat. Sergio Moreno grounded out, but then Jax Nourse squeezed a one-run double just inside the left-field line.
Derek Shaver batted next and took advantage of Horizon’s right fielder playing shallow, hitting to the opposite field for a triple that rolled to the fence.
The second balk of the inning allowed Shaver to score, Andrew Hansen was hit by a pitch and Andrew Mantlo singled to put two runners on, both of whom crossed the plate on a triple from Chavis Nourse. A wild pitch allowed Chavis Nourse to score, giving Grand Junction a 6-1 lead at the end of the first inning.
Tigers starting pitcher Jackson Thorton made quick work of the Hawks in the second inning, then Hansen and Jax Nourse had back-to-back hits to the fence to add one run to Grand Junction’s lead.
The Tigers’ offense was quiet the rest of the way, but the Hawks pieced together four additional runs on walks, wild pitches and errors.
“It’s all stuff that can be cleaned up,” Little said. “You look at the error Jax had in the first inning, that’s just a first inning of the first game jitter-type error that will probably never happen again. Those are easy things to clean up. We probably gave up four or five unearned runs and that’s something I’m not too happy about, but I’m confident we can clean it up.”
Central 13, Rampart 1, 5 innings: Caleb Dwyer pitched four solid innings and the Warriors (1-0) scored six runs in the first inning to pull away from the Rams (0-1).
Central piled up 15 hits, including three each from Seth Barker, Cade Balleweg and Ryan Weller. Balleweg, a sophomore, finished 3 for 3 with 5 RBI.
Dwyer allowed only one hit, struck out seven and walked three.
Rock Canyon 10, Fruita Monument 3: The Jaguars (1-0) held off the Wildcats (0-1) behind an outstanding pitching effort from Matt Givin. The senior — who is committed to Xavier University — pitched a shutout for six innings before Fruita rallied for three runs in the seventh inning. Givin finished with nine strikeouts and one walk and allowed six hits.
“I think facing (Givin), and facing a team like that, is a good early season test,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “We like that. That’s what you want to be able to see. We’re trying to get to that level. We want to play against a team like that in a playoff game, because that’s what you’re going to get in the first round. Their pitcher is great, their kids are good, swing the bat, run the bases. That’s a very experienced team and it was good for our guys to face that.”
Rock Canyon scored at least one run in all but the first inning and Fruita Monument committed five errors.