Pitchers key to Palisade’s success

Palisade’s Kameron Pfaff delivers Thursday during the Bulldogs’ 14-1 victory over Battle Mountain. Pfaff pitched all five innings in the win.

A called strike earns a blank look.

Ball call? Poker face.

Palisade High School’s primary starting pitchers — Kameron Pfaff and Tate Herland — are taught to show no emotion toward umpires on the mound.

And in doing so, they have doubled up to start, and win, the front and back end of three consecutive doubleheaders.

That includes Palisade’s 14-1 and 22-2 wins over Battle Mountain on Thursday at Canyon View Park.

Both had wins. Yet both struggled for short periods. Each time, however, either shortstop Caleb Hall or someone from the dugout, knew the remedy. Humor. Weird, anti-baseball humor.

“Anything you can think of,” Herland said. “Anything besides baseball.”

The mindset passed down by Palisade coaches Steve Moore and Dennis Compton has hardened in the pitchers’ brains. Herland and Pfaff know their strengths and weaknesses. Each batter is to be treated as though he were the last. Show no emotion. Pitch four or five solid innings and don’t worry about going the distance. The bullpen can handle the rest.

Herland and Pfaff each have tossed a five-inning no-hitter.

Seven innings is generally too long of a contest for Palisade’s hitters, who are averaging 9.4 runs per game.

If the 10-run rule isn’t enacted, maybe weather will take over and cut one short. Like in Thursday’s second game. As Palisade was ahead 22-2 over Battle Mountain, one distant, afternoon lightning strike suddenly led to winds that in the Grand Valley were reportedly in excess of 60 mph.

Well, something needed to slow the Bulldogs.

They have won eight consecutive games and are 14-2 overall and 9-0 in the Class 4A Western Slope League. Remaining games for Palisade are Delta (Tuesday at 4 p.m.) and a doubleheader at Steamboat Springs (May 5 and 6.)

Palisade can clinch the league title with a win at Delta (9-7, 6-3).

Tinkering of the Bulldogs’ chemistry has been going on for some 12 years. Herland, Justin Bell, Hall and Lane Orman (and perhaps others) reportedly have been attending school together since kindergarten.

“They’re a unit, that’s what it is,” said Shane Herland, Tate’s father. “That’s the way they’ve been all year.”

They don’t wear suits or ties, and they laugh to stay loose during games, but Palisade heads to games on business. And business can be fun.

“We take care of business and then get ready fore the next game,” Moore said. “Winning is the fun.”

On Thursday, Palisade put up seven runs in the first inning of the first game.

In the second game, they lit the scoreboard with seven runs in the second inning and nine runs in the fourth inning. Palisade was hit by a pitch six times — Cole Cummins twice.

And Herland and Pfaff had their stuff.

When asked what they think of their 1-2 combination, Herland and Pfaff spoke as identical twins. And this time, it was OK to slide off masks and slip sly smiles.

“I love it,” Pfaff said.

“I love it,” Herland said.


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