Pouring on the hits: Central tops Palisade in offensive outburst at Suplizio Field
It’s amazing what baseball teams can do when they get to play on a consistent basis.
After suffering an extra-innings loss Tuesday night to Grand Junction, Central High School’s baseball team was right back on the field Wednesday night to play another Grand Valley opponent.
One day later, it was a different result, as the Warriors (4-10, 1-5 Southwestern League) exploded to a 19-7 nonleague victory over Palisade (10-4, 7-2 Western Slope League).
“We’ve never doubted our abilities as a team,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “We’ve always known we are a good team and capable of this, so it was good to see.”
Offensively, the Warriors couldn’t be stopped. Central’s 19 runs came on 17 hits, nine for extra-base hits.
“We did a much better job of executing at the plate,” Yost said. “We did a good job of making adjustments, which we didn’t do (Tuesday) night.”
Designated hitter Joe Smith exemplified those adjustments.
The junior three-hole hitter went 2 for 4 with three RBI on Tuesday night against Grand Junction, and followed that with a 5-for-5 performance against the Bulldogs.
“I was staying back and being relaxed,” said Smith, who had three doubles, a triple and five RBI on the night. “I’ve had games where I was uptight, but (Wednesday night) I just relaxed and had fun.”
Smith’s hot night at the plate helped the Warriors open things up early, as he and Lanny Baker hit back-to-back doubles in the second inning to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead.
“We were frustrated with (Tuesday’s) game, so we had to take it all out here,” Smith said. “We got better this game.”
The Warriors’ offense gave starting pitcher Tanner Reid a nice cushion to work with. Reid hasn’t seen much time on the mound this season, but held the Bulldogs to one run through the first three innings.
“I thought Reid did a great job,” Yost said. “He hasn’t thrown a whole lot, but he got early outs.”
Although Reid started strong, Palisade came to life offensively in the bottom of the fourth inning. Trailing 8-1, the Bulldogs scored four runs, including an RBI double by Caleb Hall.
Central responded the next inning, as Smith led off with a triple and scored on Spencer Hicks’ single to push the lead to 9-5.
“The kids have to learn the game’s not over until it’s over,” Palisade coach Steve Moore said. “When we have a big inning like that, the next inning we have to shut them down and we didn’t do that.”
Matt Champlin took over on the mound for Central in the fifth inning, and the senior held Palisade scoreless through the next two innings, which allowed the Warriors to make a run. Central scored four runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.
“Matt came in, threw strikes, and didn’t panic out there,” Yost said. “He showed his senior leadership and they made plays behind him.”
Central added six more runs in the seventh inning, highlighted by a three-run double from Smith.
“It was nice that we didn’t have to go down like we did to Junction then have to wait 10 days to play,” Yost said. “We were able to get right back on the horse and get a win.”
Central’s off until next Wednesday when it takes on Fruita Monument at Suplizio Field. Palisade returns to WSL action this weekend when it hosts a doubleheader against Rifle.
“We have to get back out there and get refocused,” Moore said. “This was the worst game we played this year offensively and defensively. So, we’ll take this as a team loss and see what happens.”
The Grand Junction boys lacrosse team defeated Eagle Valley 9-3 after putting together a 12-4 win Tuesday over Glenwood Springs.
Grand Junction coach James States said the back-to-back wins allowed the Tigers to get into a good rhythm.
“It was nice to have these games where we saw the offense function like it should,” States said. “This is exactly how we want to go into Aspen on Friday.“Kris States led the Tigers with four goals against the Demons.