Nine-run 7th sends Durango past Central
With Trey Garcia dodging the bullpen mound as he chased down a popup in foul ground to record the first out, the seventh inning began innocently enough.
Unfortunately for Garcia and his Central High School baseball teammates, Warrior pitchers couldn’t dodge Durango’s bats the rest of the frame.
Stringing together 11 hits, including seven straight after Garcia’s catch, the Demons used a nine-run rally in the top of the seventh Saturday to down the Warriors 17-13 in Southwestern League play at Suplizio Field.
Jeremy Szura’s two-run single, a line shot to center field, tied the game at 13-13, and then Isiah Mayberry put Durango on top 14-13 with a hustle double.
“The guys showed heart and came around in the end,” Demons coach Rob Coddington said. “Our guys can hit. When they get it going, it can be pretty fun to watch. We’re kind of streaky, up and down, but it’s fun when we’re up.”
Szura’s tying single came on the heels of four hitless trips to the plate.
“I hadn’t had a hit in the game yet, but I got up there and believed,” the junior shortstop said. “I had two strikes on me, so I really had to shorten up and make sure I got a piece of the ball. It worked out good.”
Mayberry’s go-ahead hit capped a 3-for-5, two-RBI outing for the slugging catcher. His loudest hit came to lead off the second inning when he cleared the wall in right-center field with a home run. That sparked a three-run rally that put Durango ahead 3-0.
In typical Southwestern League fashion, no lead was safe in Saturday’s slugfest.
After surging back to take a 7-5 lead with a four-run fourth inning, the Warriors surrendered three runs in the fifth to fall behind once more. They erased that deficit with a run in their half of the fifth and then, on the strength of four hits, a walk and three hit batsmen, took a 13-8 lead with a five-run sixth inning.
Central coach Chuck Yost could only watch in disbelief as the seventh-inning nightmare played out.
“We didn’t walk people, we didn’t make errors,” he lamented. “They just hit the ball. There’s not much you can do at all.”
Yost’s squad had its share of clutch hits, too.
Garcia cleared loaded bases with a fourth-inning double that Durango center fielder Tyler Worley nearly hauled in with a sliding attempt.
Josh Weller drove in two runs with a line single to right field in the sixth. Jeremy Champlin followed Weller’s opposite-field approach in the next at-bat, drilling a double into the right-field corner to plate another run.
The Warriors (9-8, 4-4) will need to keep those clutch hits coming as they close out the regular season this week against the SWL’s top two teams. Central faces Grand Junction at Suplizio at 6 p.m. Wednesday and travels to play league champ Montrose on Friday.
“We’ve got to win these next two,” Yost said. “We’re in a must-win situation. We have to battle to get back on track.”
Durango (8-9, 3-5) is at Montezuma-Cortez on Tuesday and hosts Grand Junction on Saturday.