Pitching, clutch hitting lift Palisade to win

Big ball, small ball and good pitching and Palisade cruised.

The Bulldogs used a five-run fourth inning and a complete-game pitching performance to beat Poudre 6-2 at Suplizio Filed on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-1 in the fourth, the Bulldogs sent nine batters to the plate. Designated hitter Andrew Bowles got the inning started with a deep, leadoff home run over the left-field wall.

A single by Tass Crow gave Palisade a 3-2 lead, and Troy Levinson ripped a double down the first-base line to make the score 6-2. Shoddy defense by Poudre resulted in three errors and kept the inning alive.

Good pitching was the story of the game for the Bulldogs, and Devan Lucero got the job done in his first start of the season.

The Palisade senior got off to a rough start, then it was smooth sailing over the final six innings.

After giving up three hits and two runs in the first inning, Lucero gave up two hits the rest of the way. He retired 18 of the final 21 batters he faced, striking out six with no walks.

“I liked what Devan did on the mound,” Palisade coach Aaron Howard said. “He pitched a complete game in his first outing of the year. That was a really plus for us, and defensively we played well.”

After an error in the first, the Palisade defense was flawless the rest of the way. Howard said the team has steadily improved in the field.

“Each game we’ve gotten a little better defensively,” he said.

Lucero said he was nervous making his first start of the season, but after that first inning he settled down and went to work.

“I just let it go and knew I get to start fresh the next inning,” he said about the two-run first. “It was kind of rough at the beginning until I found my groove. I just needed to find where I was last year, finding the groove I had last year.”

Palisade (2-3) cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first when Aaron Salazar scored on a ground-out by Levinson. But the next two innings, the Bulldogs struggled at the plate. That’s when Bowles hammered his home run to ignite the offense.

Salazar scored a pair of runs and was on base three times. Levinson had two RBI and reached base three times, including two walks.


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