Grand Mesa opens Senior boys tourney with victory
By KENT MINCER
The biggest challenge the Grand Mesa Senior boys baseball team faced Saturday in its District 1 Little League tournament opener was Mother Nature.
Grand Mesa shook off two delays to hold on for a 7-2 victory over Orchard Mesa.
“We’ll take that first one any way we can get ’em,” Grand Mesa coach Steve Steinkirchner said.
Grand Mesa scored on Brenton Steinkirchner’s two-run home run to center field in the top of the first inning, but Orchard Mesa starting pitcher Nate Yanez, who was celebrating his birthday Saturday, kept his opponents at bay through the next three innings.
Orchard Mesa couldn’t get anything going against Grand Mesa starter Mickey Clark, however. Clark allowed only one baserunner, that on a dropped third strike, in his 21/3 innings of work.
After striking out six, Clark gave way to reliever Trevor Moss so he could stay under 35 pitches
and be available for tonight’s game against Fruita.
“When I was warming up I felt really good,” Clark said.
He felt equally comfortable at the plate, getting three hits, including two doubles.
Brenton Steinkirchner also finished with three hits, adding a double and a single.
“I thought it would be awesome to hit the first home run of the tournament, and it was,” Steinkirchner said.
Grand Mesa started to put together a rally in the fifth inning, but a 25-minute lightning delay didn’t hamper the team. When play was resumed, Grand Mesa added three runs to the two it had scored earlier in the inning to go ahead 7-0.
“We had the momentum,” Steve Steinkirchner said of the delay not affecting his team. A brief two-minute rain delay in the sixth also didn’t seem to hamper the team.
“I feel a lot of pressure is relieved,” Clark said of getting the victory in the tournament opener.
Three District 1 championships were decided on Saturday.
Fruita avenged a Friday night loss to Orchard Mesa by winning the 9-10 girls softball championship with a 21-13 victory. Fruita scored 13 runs in the third inning to pull away.
Monument shut out Montrose 14-0 in Cortez to earn the 9-10 year-old boys American division title. Monument won its four tournament games by a combined score of 75-9.
In Montrose, Orchard Mesa went through the 11-year-old boys bracket unbeaten after it defeated Montrose 10-5 to earn the title.
In the Major boys tournament at Monument, Grand Mesa edged Monument 11-10. It will play in the tournament championship game at 5:30 this evening against unbeaten Montrose, which defeated Grand Mesa 19-10 in their earlier meeting Thursday.