Gene Taylor’s baseball players hope to make good impressions
For Marcus Wirth, this is his last opportunity to prove he can play.
The Grand Junction High School graduate joined the Gene Taylor’s American Legion baseball team this summer hoping to latch on to a college program in the fall.
“I should get a lot of exposure,” Wirth said. “We’re obviously going to have a lot of talent on this team and should catch a lot of people’s eyes. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of good exposure.”
Wirth played on an American Legion baseball team in Maryland the past two years while visiting family for the summer. He hasn’t signed or committed to any colleges, but he plans to visit Lamar Community College later this summer.
He will play center field and bat leadoff for Gene Taylor’s this summer.
The team opens the season today in the Cherry Creek Classic. The 62-team tournament continues through the weekend.
Wirth is one of 12 graduates on the 19-under team this season, including Fruita Monument graduate Drew Bridges, who signed with the University of New Mexico and Grand Junction graduate Casey Burns, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 37th round Wednesday. Burns has signed with St. Mary’s (Calif.) College.
Stephen Baldwin is on the team for the fourth year, and Tyler Gastineau is on it for his third year. Tanner Denton, who graduated from Central High last spring, is back.
There are 12 players on the team who were seniors this past school year.
“Having that stability is good because they know what to expect out of us,” coach David Jahnke said. “They want to go out on a winning note. They want to erase what happened at state last year and the year before that. We haven’t won a game at state in two years now.”
Burns was scheduled to play with Gene Taylor’s for the month of June, then head to St. Mary’s in July.
“They want to stay in it at a high level,” Jahnke said, “seeing good pitching, continuing to get better, so when they go to college, they roll right into it. There’s not that long break.”
Palisade graduate Tate Herland is on the team, but broke his left wrist and is out for a month, Jahnke said.
Gene Taylor’s plays in the Legion A (age 19-under) District 1 Division 3. There are 13 teams in Legion A in the state.
The team went 0-2 in the American Legion state tournament last summer.
Gene Taylor’s is in its third season playing American Legion baseball and in the sixth year since the program restarted. Jahnke has been a coach from the start and is in his second year as the head coach.
Palisade has a few returning players from last year’s team that placed third in the Legion B (17-under) state tournament, but will have a younger pitching staff this summer.
The Bulldogs (1-0) opened the season with a victory over Coal Ridge last week.
Some of the returning players are Cody Higman, Caden Woods, Quinn Clark and T.J. Tway.
The Bulldogs are playing in a tournament in Rifle this weekend.
Palisade has a second Legion B team consisting of players young enough to play in Legion C, but are playing up because it is the only team on the Western Slope eligible for Legion C.
Players include Andrew Bowles, Quincy Campbell and Noah Martinez.
Both Palisade teams play in the District 2 Mountain Division.