Haynes’ complete game helps Montrose top GJ
The pitcher’s smile, wide and jaw-sagged, was frozen for a few seconds.
He continued to stare toward home plate at Canyon View Park on Tuesday, surprised his curveball was called a ball. A strike would have ended the game.
Skylar Haynes slunk back to the rubber, then opened another smile toward first base.
It’s forced humor.
“I was chuckling. It was called a ball, but everybody knew it (wasn’t),” Haynes said. “So I just moved on ... start chucking.”
Haynes chuckled and chucked and forced Grand Junction’s Chandon Rose to ground out to short, preserving Haynes’ complete-game outing in Montrose’s 12-10 win.
Montrose is now 10-1 and alone in first place at 4-1 in the Southwestern League.
The Indians are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A in the Denver Post poll.
Grand Junction (9-5, 3-3) is No. 20 in Class 5A.
The Tigers put up six runs in the first inning, but as their bats cooled, so did the arm of starter Steve Baldwin, who surrendered six runs to Montrose in the fourth inning before being pulled in the sixth.
And although the Tigers didn’t respond with another base-stomping inning, Montrose did, its four-spot in the sixth highlighted by a two-RBI double by Luis Perez.
“They played better today because they play together year-round,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “That is the reason why they’re better.”
Grand Junction was ahead 6-2 when Montrose started putting runners on base. They were loaded when Baldwin walked in a run on four pitches. It is perhaps the only way to get in the head of a pitcher who reportedly can hit 90 mph — be selective.
Or is there another way?
“If you know,” Montrose coach Landon Wareham said, “let me know.”
When Baldwin left, Josh Moore pitched one-third of an inning.
When Moore went out, Casey Burns went in.
A guard in basketball known for his two-handed dunks and 3-point accuracy, Burns was accurate again — and forceful — striking out a batter looking and inducing another to fly out to end the inning.
But Montrose chipped away at Burns with the four-run sixth inning.
And with Haynes. In the bottom of the seventh, he gave up a walk, then a double to Sean Rubalcaba, the Tigers’ shortstop who before Tuesday was batting .660. Rubalcaba had two doubles, giving him 12 on the season.
Marcus Wirth followed with an RBI single and Burns hit a sacrifice fly.
Montrose led 12-10. Two outs, full count and a curveball that snaked over — or around — the plate. Regardless, it was a ball.
“Having blue behind the plate is part of the game,” Haynes said. “It was a pretty good pitch. But if you break down you won’t get through it. Got to go to the next guy.”
And start chuckin’.
“That’s what Coach tells us,” Haynes said, chuckling once again.
“Chuck the ball.”