Grand Mesa tops Fruita for Major girls title
In Saturday’s loss to Fruita, Grand Mesa Major girls coach Kevin Rubalcaba wasn’t pleased with how many runners were left on base.
So Sunday, when the teams met again in a winner-takes-all Little League District 1 championship game in Fruita, Rubalcaba made his team take some chances in a 6-5 win.
“As coaches, we met before the game and we realized we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be (Saturday), so we figured if we’ve got runners on, we’re going to make them make plays,” Rubalcaba said. “If some girls get thrown out then that’s the risk we take.”
The strategy came full-circle in the fifth inning, when the team used its aggression on the base paths to score the final four runs in the victory.
The inning started with a double by Sierra Batchelor, who reached third on a stolen base.
Sydney Corra then hit a double to score Batchelor, and Cassie Rubalcaba reached on a walk.
During the next at-bat, Corra and Rubalcaba scored on consecutive passed balls. The hitter, Rubalcaba, reached base on an error and got to third after a passed ball and stolen base before scoring on a fielder’s choice.
Fruita trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
For the Orchard Mesa Major boys, pitching success in Sunday’s 11-3 win against Fruita didn’t come from a variation in speed or nasty breaking pitches.
It was simply getting the ball over the plate.
“We worked hard on just getting our first pitch strikes and trying to get ahead of the batters,” coach Pete Steves said. “We did pretty much fastballs tonight, didn’t throw too much off-speed stuff. If they’re going to hit it, they’re going to hit it.”
Although there wasn’t much variance in pitch type, pitchers Kale Litzelman and Tristan Brown limited Fruita to five hits and struck out 10.
The team scored one run in each of the first two innings before it had six hits, including four for extra bases, as part of a seven-run fourth.
The inning was capped by a three-run home run to center field by Hunter Kelcher.
In the other elimination game Sunday, Grand Mesa beat Colo. River Valley 9-2.
Fruita beat Monument in an elimination game to advance to the finals.
It was Fruita’s third straight win. The team will face unbeaten Palisade at 5:30 p.m. today in Fruita and will need to win two games to win the championship.
9/10 Boys a
Fruita beat Cortez on Sunday to advance to the finals against Monument. Fruita lost 11-1 to Monument on Saturday and needs two wins for a championship. Monument needs only one.
9/10 Boys B
Fruita scored 14 runs in the seventh inning to eliminate Grand Mesa 26-12. Three Rivers beat Monument A 13-3 in the other elimination game.
In the winner’s bracket, Monument B beat Palisade 20-3 and Colo. River Valley beat Montrose 7-2.
Fruita beat Grand Mesa 17-16 in an elimination game. Fruita will play undefeated Orchard Mesa 7 p.m today. If Orchard Mesa wins, they will be crowned champions, but if Fruita wins, the tournament goes an extra game.
Monument benefited from the early pitching of Derek Shaver to beat Grand Mesa 15-0. Shaver pitched three innings and didn’t allow a hit.
Fruita beat Montrose 16-13 in an elimination game.