High and goodbye
Bess' HR on high fastball big hit in Fruita's win over Central
Cuba Bess likes fastballs, and high fastballs are even better.
The second high heater the Fruita Monument first baseman saw in Thursday night’s game was promptly deposited over the right-field fence for a two-run home run to help the Wildcats to a 12-1 win over Central in a Southwestern League baseball game at Suplizio Field.
The Wildcats pounded out 11 hits and got solid pitching from sophomores Devon Canup and Sam Schroeder to keep the Warriors in check.
With Fruita leading 3-1 in the fifth, Central pitcher Michael Price walked Luke Goodrich, which brought Bess to the plate, and one pitch later, the Wildcats had a 5-1 lead. The sophomore, who was a triple away from the cycle, went 3 for 3 with three RBI on the night.
Bess said he was sitting dead-red in the fifth when he launched a Price fastball over the fence.
“After seeing three (at-bats) I wanted to go up there and be aggressive,” he said. “He gave me a first-pitch fastball, and I was ready for it.”
After seeing some breaking balls the first two at-bats, Bess was looking fastball all the way, which resulted in his first home run of the season.
The game was a battle between Canup and Price until the fifth, but it was the sixth inning when everything unraveled for the Warriors. The nightmare quickly turned ugly with a walk, a hit and two errors to start the inning. The seven runs resulted in the 10-run rule, and the game was called after six.
The sixth was a merry-go-round for Fruita Monument (3-1, 1-0 SWL) with 11 batters coming to the plate. Gabe Treider had a two-run double, and four other Wildcats had RBI singles in the inning, with Sam Graf knocking in two.
The Wildcats took advantage of an error in the first inning to put up two runs on RBI singles by Goodrich and Bess.
Price struggled at times but battled through five innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits and striking out five.
Fruita Monument head coach Ray McLennan said assistant coach Don Vidmar came up with a pitching strategy, and it worked to near perfection.
“I wasn’t sure it was right, putting two sophomores out there against a great baseball team like Central, and on this big stage there’s a lot of pressure,” he said “They both did well. I thought Devon threw a great game, and Sam Schroeder came in and shut the door.”
Schroeder was outstanding in relief, giving up only one hit and striking out four in the final 2 1/3 innings.
Canup was just as effective as the starter, giving up four hits and striking out three.
McLennan said he has confidence in as many as eight pitchers, and that helps keep his pitching staff fresh.
“We have a deep staff and a lot of good arms, and we’re careful with pitch counts,” he said. “We don’t want to overuse them early in the season, and it’s tempting to do that. We’ll never sacrifice a kid’s arm for the sake of a win.”
The Warriors (2-1, 1-0 SWL) got their only run in the third inning when Brandon Martinez tripled down the first-base line, then scored on a single by Jeremy Champlin.