Fruita holds off Montrose at Canyon View Park
Break out the dog-eared copy of that old cliché book you’ve got on the shelf.
Backs against the wall. One game at a time, inning at a time, one pitch at a time. Manufacturing runs, one run at a time. Don’t make mental mistakes. We control our own destiny.
The Fruita Monument High School baseball team has adopted all those old adages for the remainder of the season.
Some of them worked Saturday. The Wildcats used one big inning at the plate and the collective effort of four pitchers to hold off Montrose 6-5 at Canyon View Park.
The game was scheduled for Friday at Montrose, but inclement weather forced a one-day postponement and change of venue. The two teams play again April 28 in Montrose to close out the regular season.
Having endured its second Southwestern League loss on Tuesday, 9-7 at Durango, Fruita Monument (9-5, 4-2 SWL) was striving to keep within one game of league-leader Grand Junction.
“We had to win it,” Wildcats coach Ray McLennan said. “We’re in the position where we have to win every game for us to win the league title.”
Not that it was easy Saturday. The Indians made the Wildcats work for it.
“We knew they were going to be a competitive team,” McLennan said.
Montrose starting pitcher Bryce Gaber kept the Wildcats off balance through the first 22/3 innings before Fruita Monument pieced together a two-out rally. With TJ Pollock on first base,
Alex Mende hit a ball that was bobbled in the outfield, allowing Pollock to score. Ryan Mixon and Bracket Mays followed with back-to-back doubles, the Wildcats’ only extra-base hits, and
Rex Clemons singled to score Mays. That put Fruita Monument ahead 4-1.
The Indians weren’t about to go away, scoring three runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game.
Once again, the Wildcats put a two-out rally together to score twice in the bottom of the inning.
At that point, it was up to the relief pitchers. Knowing the stakes, McLennan went three deep to his bullpen.
Montrose added one run in the sixth. Clemons came on for one inning of relief in the seventh and induced a ground ball for a double play to end the game.
“Ever since the Durango loss we said we’ve got to put it together,” said Mixon, who, along with Mende, had two hits.
Mixon said the Wildcats try to make use of opponents’ mistakes. Montrose’s lone error led to the four-run third inning, all of them unearned.
“If we get errors we’re going to take advantage of it,” Mixon said.
With pitching changes and the resultant double switches, McLennan used 16 players in the game. If that’s what he needs to do to win every game down the stretch, he’s prepared.
“We tell the kids, control the things you can control,” McLennan said.