Fruita jumps on errors by Central to win

Cody Bell hits a perfect bunt as Mende sprints to home on a perfectly executed squeeze play by Fruita.

In a close game, an error or miscue can be the difference between winning and losing.

The Central and Fruita Monument high school baseball teams played a fairly even game Wednesday night at Suplizio Field, but three errors by the Warriors contributed to the Wildcats’ 6-1 victory.

“We talk all the time that we can’t beat ourselves,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “The errors are a big looming factor.”

Central (6-3, 0-1 Southwestern League) began the game well, getting to Fruita Monument starting pitcher Rex Clemons early. The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Travis Key hit a RBI single to drive in Scott Clow.

Clemons didn’t take long to shake off the rusty start, retiring the next eight batters, including four on strikeouts. Warriors starting pitcher Clow was also tough on the mound, holding the Wildcats (5-3, 1-0 SWL) scoreless until the fourth inning.

In the fourth, Clow walked Brackett Mays and Drew Bridges to put two runners on base with Alex Mende hitting.

The senior right fielder laced a line drive to center field that scored Mays. Warriors center fielder Alec Rupe allowed the ball to get between his legs, which gave Bridges enough time to score and Mende to make it to third.

“I hit it hard up the middle and it was hard enough to make him commit the error,” Mende said. “I was glad that hit got us some runs.”

The next batter, Cody Bell, executed a squeeze bunt to drive in Mende, putting the Wildcats up 3-1.
Mende led the Wildcats, going 3 for 3 with three singles.

Though his team did not score for the first three innings, Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said the group stayed composed.

“We kept talking about patience because we knew we were going to get runs,” McLennan said. “I thought it was the sign of a veteran team because we hung in there and didn’t panic.”

With the Wildcats holding onto the two-run lead Clemons went to work. He allowed three hits over the next three innings, striking out three and not allowing any Warrior to get past second.

“Anytime we throw Rex, we know he will hold the other team down,” McLennan said. “He controlled the game for us and it was just a matter of getting guys in to score.”

Clow recovered after his rough fourth inning, retiring the side in order the next two innings. But Clow ran into trouble in the seventh. With one out, TJ Pollack ripped a triple and Ryan Mixon followed with a hard ground ball that got through third baseman Joe Smith’s legs.

For Central, the errors and lack of timely hits ended up being too costly.

“I didn’t think we would go out here and get 15 runs off Clemons,” Yost said. “I expected it to be a tight ballgame and we couldn’t get the timely hit when we needed to.”

Central is off until Tuesday, when it faces Montrose. Fruita is also off until Tuesday, when its takes on Grand Junction.


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