Grand Mesa’s blowout win propels team to state
By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
Grand Mesa Little League’s senior boys team dominated the District 1 baseball tournament from the beginning.
The team completed its mission Tuesday night, defeating Fruita 27-1 in five innings at Orchard Mesa Little League to win the District 1 title. Grand Mesa advances to the state tournament beginning July 25 at the District 2 champion.
In Grand Mesa’s three district games, it outscored its opponents 43-6.
“I think a lot of it had to do with our pitching,” coach Steve Steinkirchner said. “We have some depth. The first two games, our pitchers didn’t throw more than 30 pitches.”
Mickey Clark started the first game Saturday and was well rested for Tuesday’s championship.
“I thought I had a good warm-up,” Clark said. “I think it showed.”
The 17-year-old limited Fruita to no runs on one hit, one walk and had six strikeouts in four innings of work. Brandon Martinez allowed one run on two hits in one inning of relief.
“(Clark) was awesome,” Steinkirchner said. “His slider and curveball were on fire tonight. The first couple of times kids saw (them), they were bailing.”
Clark had enough run support in one inning from the offense to last several games as Grand Mesa scored 11 in the top of the first inning. Grand Mesa scored seven runs before Fruita got an out. Most of the runs scored on base hits, but four came in on a Brenton Steinkirchner grand slam.
“Batting practice before the game really helped,” Brenton Steinkirchner said.
James D’Annible hit a three-run home run and Clark had a two-run blast in the second. Clark added a grand slam of his own in the fourth.
Clark was 4 for 4 with eight RBI, Steinkirchner was 4 for 6 with five RBI and D’Annible was 3 for 5 with four RBI.
This was Steve Steinkirchner’s second consecutive district title.
This year, Grand Mesa is looking to win a state title.
Rifle took command and held on to defeat Cortez 8-5 for the district championship.
Rifle won five consecutive games to win the district title.
Danny Bartels limited Cortez to five runs on seven hits and struck out five in 61/3 innings of work for the victory.