Price is right for Central
Warriors win home tourney
By the top of the seventh inning, Michael Price had done just about all he could for the Central baseball team. He’d gone the distance on the mound and batted in five runs.
Leaning in and bearing down as he crossed the 100-pitch mark, Price relied heavily on his team to quash a four-run, seventh-inning Fruita rally to win 11-8 at the Best of the West Warrior Classic on Sunday evening.
It was the second straight tournament championship for the U-18 Warriors, and their ninth straight victory.
In an effort to save arms, Central coach Chuck Yost kept Price in the game as the seventh inning unfolded.
After Fruita coach Ray McLennan was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, Fruita rallied and strung together five straight base runners with hits and walks. A two-run double to the base of the left-field fence by Dylan Row was the biggest blow. Price surrendered two of his three walks in the seventh.
“Yeah, I thought about taking him out in the seventh,” Yost said of Price. “I knew he had handled the bottom of their order well, and we had that big lead. But yeah, the thought crossed my mind.
“Michael did a great job battling through some tough innings and errors behind him. He’s been a solid arm for us this summer.”
Price finished with eight strikeouts and gave up six hits.
“Just having the team behind me helped,” Price said. “You know, I did struggle a bit, but they helped me out while I was on the mound, and that got me focused back up. We know that our pitching isn’t always going to be the best, but we have a great approach in the field, and we always swing the bats.”
While Price paced the Warriors offensively, Central also benefitted from hit batsmen. The Warriors were hit by five pitches and drew four walks. “Every time they scored runs, we responded, and they never carried momentum,” Yost said. “They’d score one run, and we’d score two. They’d score two, and we’d respond. I think we did a good job answering back.
“Kids are playing well, and we’re having fun right now. We’ve had a consistent run, and we’ve had timely hits and good defense.”
Fruita used a parade of pitchers with a depleted lineup. Sophomore Devon Canup got the start for Fruita. He had one strikeout, one walk, and two hit batters over three innings in a losing effort. Fruita had won three straight going into Sunday. “I feel our tournament went well,” McLennan said. “We hit well all week. We were a little behind pitching-wise. But shoot, 11-8 is a good score, and if we get a break here or there, or a call here or there, that’s a whole different ball game.”