Wildcats start strong in first baseball game of season
Matt Scofield had perhaps the most important role Thursday for the Fruita Monument High School baseball team, and it wasn’t necessarily getting on base as the leadoff hitter.
Facing Horizon pitcher Danny Wise in the first inning of the Bill Fanning Classic at Canyon View Park, Scofield’s job was to gather a scouting report.
He saw four fastballs, all with above-average velocity, inside and tailing toward his hands. He wanted to get a read on the curve. Teammates relied on it.
But instead, on a 1-2 count, a fastball tailed again to the inside corner of the plate and Scofield nubbed it to third base, grounding out. But he’d filed a mental report and in a team huddle, gave his teammates the dirt on Wise.
Whatever he said about those fastballs worked as the Wildcats put up eight on the board in the first inning of a 15-5 win that was called by the 10-run rule in the sixth inning.
After seeing as many pitches as he could, Scofield said he sat on the bench with a sarcastic “I told you so” attitude as Fruita pounded out hits in the big inning.
Drew Bridges, Fruita’s No. 3 hitter who has signed to play baseball at the University of New Mexico, walked three times and hit a double.
So he often set up the Wildcats’ No. 4 hitter, catcher Evan McDermott, who in the third inning roped a double to the left field wall for an RBI.
“It felt real good coming off the bat, but I almost tripped going around first,” McDermott said. “I took three steps and caught a cleat.”
Fortunately for the Wildcats, McDermott’s ball hit the left-center field wall in a park where the distance from home plate in left field reads 390 feet.
“In the first game, you never know what you’re going to get,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “I liked the effort and I liked their energy.”
Conner Ruckman started for Fruita and pitched three innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out five.
Walker Williams pitched the final three innings, striking out five.
The first two batters to face Williams in the fourth inning struck out looking.
Fruita ended the game when Bridges doubled to the right field wall, scoring Scofield, who had singled to left.
Scofield, who also was hit by a pitch, was no longer the man gathering a scouting report.
He helped end the game.
And he’s thankful he’s playing with the college baseball-bound Bridges.
“It’s real nice,” Scofield said. “I’m not going to lie.”
Grand Junction 17, Woodland Park 2: Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, the Tigers scored 14 runs with one out, finally ending the inning hitting into a double play.
“It was a pretty good inning,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “We had quite a few hits and they didn’t make any errors in that inning.”
Leadoff man Sean Rubalcaba, who only started practicing last week after wrapping up basketball season, went 4 for 4 with a double.
“He’s pretty special,” Rush said. “He’s done with baseball in May, plays football all summer and fall, then basketball, and he picks up a bat last week and gets four hits. The middle of our order was a little slow, but 7-8-9 had seven hits.”
Zach Lebsock doubled and tripled and Chandon Rose tripled for the Tigers, whose big inning ended the game after the top of the fifth.
Three pitchers got some work in, with Stephen Baldwin going the first 3 1/3 innings, then getting relieved by Brett LaBonte and Austin Ridgway.
Central 11, Fossil Ridge 8: Nick Hill went 3 for 4 with three RBI and Kyle Rowe went 2 for 4 with three RBI as Central put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth to defeat Fossil Ridge.
Hill and Rowe each tripled for Central (1-0).
Rowe, Central’s starting pitcher, threw four innings and allowed no earned runs.