Indians win SWL behind wind power

Montrose High School pitcher Tyrus Lopez threw a one-hit shutout Tuesday afternoon against Fruita Monument at Montrose.

MONTROSE — Montrose High School baseball coach Landon Wareham said the Indians “aren’t really a power team.”

But Tuesday, a wind-aided power alley carried two balls over the fence in right-center field on the Indians’ home field.

Although the Indians mustered only eight hits against Fruita Monument, Kam DeVincentis and Curtis McCall hit home runs, accounting for every run in Montrose’s 3-0 Southwestern League victory.

With the win and Central’s loss to Grand Junction on Tuesday night, the Indians won the SWL championship.

“It’s a nice accomplishment because we play in a good league,” Wareham said. “We’re certainly proud of it, but it’s a far cry from what our real goals are.”

McCall’s home run had the wind behind it, and the junior second baseman hesitated after rounding second, thinking he might have hit a ground-rule double.

DeVincentis’ home run was a no-doubter, and added two insurance runs that starting pitcher Tyrus Lopez didn’t necessarily need.

Lopez pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out 12 batters and allowing three hits. His curveball, inconsistent at times this season, had a nasty break despite snowy conditions.

“He was throwing two pitches for strikes and that’s really important with him,” Wareham said. “His fastball is good enough that if he can get his other pitches going, that will make his fastball even better. He’s always working around the zone, pound the zone, so there’s that.”

Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said Lopez’s performance was “the best I’ve seen him pitch in three years.”

Lopez struck out the side twice and fanned three of the final four batters he faced.

“I definitely felt like my curve was helping,” Lopez said. “I was trying to keep them off balance, and the change-up went into that, too.”

The loss eliminates the Wildcats from a share of the SWL title and leaves a postseason berth in the 32-team field uncertain.

The SWL receives one automatic Class 5A bid.

Should Central beat Montrose on Friday, the Warriors will receive the automatic bid, leaving Fruita Monument’s fate to the wild-card points system. As of Tuesday night, Fruita Monument was 18th in the Class 5A wild card standings, but that doesn’t take into account the loss to the Class 4A Indians.

Should Central lose to Montrose, Fruita Monument would win the tiebreaker with Grand Junction and the Wildcats would receive the automatic bid. The Tigers, at 16th, are the highest ranked SWL team in the Class 5A wild card standings.

“We know we’re not in control of our own destiny anymore,” McLennan said. “But you know, we did a lot of good things early this season and it’s still a very young group. I’d like to think what we did early this will help us get a playoff spot.”

“Really, I’d like there to be three Southwestern League teams in the playoffs and for us to be one of them, but there are a lot of good teams on the Eastern Slope as well.”


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