Grand Junction splits doubleheader with Durango
After a disappointing Game 1, Grand Junction knew it needed Game 2.
Jax Nourse did everything he could on the mound and at the plate to keep the Tigers from getting swept
The Grand Junction senior bashed a three-run home run in the first inning, then, on the mound, he got every out except the final one to lead the Tigers to a 6-5 win over Durango on Saturday at Suplizio Field.
Durango (6-14, 3-6 SWL) pushed one run across in the top of the sixth and held on for the 5-4 win in the first game of the Southwestern League doubleheader.
“Coach said it might be our last game if we don’t win, so we had to come out and win,” Nourse said. “It was a team effort and we battled. You never want to lose to a team twice, so we just came out here and got the win.”
Newly born Beau Michael Little forced the Tigers into a Plan B coaching situation when head coach Justin Little missed the doubleheader because of the birth of his first child.
Kiel Roling, who filled in for Little, said the team rebounded nicely in the second game.
“Every game is important, we kinda gave that first game away a little bit and they played a little better late,” Roling said. “We came back in the second game and found a way to win that one.”
Durango put up four runs in a quirky fifth to take a 5-4 lead. A walk and an error set up the big inning.
The Tigers (12-8, 4-4 SWL), playing as the road team, had an immediate response in the top of the sixth.
Andrew Hansen lasered a triple to the center-field wall, then scored on a single by Levi Prall. The sophomore went to second on a balk and tagged and hustled into third on a fly-ball out to right.
Derek Shaver then slapped a single to left to score Prall and give the Tigers the lead for good.
Nourse mowed down the next five hitters. Then it was a little déjà vu for the right-hander and the Tigers. After getting that second out in the seventh, he had to exit the mound because of the pitch-count rule.
A few weeks back, he departed against Paonia after getting the first two outs in the seventh and the Tigers went on to lose that game.
Sergio Moreno came in and quickly got the final out on a grounder to first.
“(Nourse) threw strikes, challenged people, he hit well too,” Roling said. “He’s a bulldog out there, he’s a gamer, and we trust him out there on the mound.”
Roling was also thrilled with how the team responded after giving up the lead.
“The biggest thing is we came back with two runs, I was impressed with the kids, that was big,” he said.
In the first game, the Tigers took a 4-1 lead after the third inning, but Durango tied it with three in the fourth, then took the lead with a run in the sixth.
With the regular season done, Grand Junction will now wait to see where it will be seeded in the 32-team Class 5A playoffs. The Tigers are currently 16th in the RPI rankings.