Heinsma’s grand slam keys Tigers’ rally

Tyler Heinsma picked the right time to hit his first grand slam.

The Grand Junction High School baseball team was on the verge of being blown out Friday by Durango, falling behind 10-0 after only 1½ innings at Suplizio Field.

It was 12-4 going into the bottom of the fifth when the Tigers finally saw balls that had been finding leather find grass.

And, in Heinsma’s case, the parking lot.

Owen Taylor led off the inning with a base hit, and two walks loaded the bases with one out for Heinsma, who drove the ball to right field. When the ball disappeared behind the wall, the Tigers were right back in the game, down 12-8.

“I just saw it and hit it,” Heinsma said with a grin. “Coach told me to swing hard and that’s what I did.”

By the time the fifth was over, the Tigers were up 14-12 and on their way to a 14-13 Southwestern League victory.

Grand Junction (7-4, 2-1 SWL) put up a 10-spot in the fifth on seven hits. They rode the momentum of Heinsma’s home run to score six more runs in the inning, sending 14 men to the plate.

“I told the guys, ‘It’s OK to score 10 in the first,’ ” Grand Junction coach Donnie Alexander said. “We don’t have to wait until the fifth. I’m proud of them. They just battled.”

Derek Derush, who went 4 for 4 in the No. 9 spot for the Tigers, followed the home run with an infield single. Dillon Fante doubled, chasing Durango starter Jeremy Szura.

Reliever Sean Blanchard threw a wild pitch, scoring Derush. Fante scored when Tristan Lafferty, who lined out hard his first three at-bats, drove the ball up the middle to cut Durango’s lead to 12-10. Anthony Johnson lifted a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to make it 12-11.

Josh Moore, who started on the mound for Grand Junction but struggled to get into a rhythm, lined a two-run triple to the right-field corner for the Tigers’ first lead of the game, 13-12.

He scored on a double off the center-field wall by Zack Cox.

Moore gave up 10 runs in 1 2/3 innings, but Kaleb Johnson picked him up with 5 1/3 innings of solid relief, allowing only three runs on four hits.

“One thing we’ve talked about since September is we’re going to be able to swing the bat,” Alexander said. “We need to be able to pitch and play defense. Kaleb did a fantastic job coming in and shutting it down.”

The Tigers had 14 hits, including four doubles, one triple and the big home run. Durango had five doubles and three triples in its 13-hit attack.

“We definitely like to keep it interesting,” Heinsma said.

Montrose 9, Montezuma-Cortez 8 (9): Garrett Zarkis pitched five shutout innings and went 4 for 4, helping Montrose escape with an extra-inning win.

Jake Kasendieck and Peter Shearer each chipped in with a pair of hits for the Indians (12-0, 5-0 SWL).


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