Seventh struggle

Lack of 'execution' costly for Central in Fanning Classic loss

Central’s Jake Strickland delivers a pitch Friday to a Rock Canyon batter in the third inning of the Warriors’ 7-4 loss in the Bill Fanning Memorial Classic at Suplizio Field. Strickland pitched three innings for Central.

Central’s Ryan Kirby celebrates Friday after hitting a two-run double in the fourth inning of the Warriors’ 7-4 loss to Rock Canyon in the Bill Fanning Memorial Classic at Suplizio Field.

The Central High School baseball team mounted a pair of rallies Friday morning, but Rock Canyon scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to earn a 7-4 victory at Suplizio Field.

The Warriors (1-1) and the Jaguars (2-0) traded early rallies, tying the game 4-4 before the top of the seventh. A walk and a single put two runners on, then Rock Canyon’s Matt Givin ripped a two-run triple to the fence in right field. A sacrifice fly scored Givin and the Jaguars held on in the bottom of the frame.

Central coach Chuck Yost said he was happy with the way his team competed against a quality Class 5A team, but said the execution was shaky at times.

“It’s little things here and there,” Yost said. “Balked in a run at one point. Leadoff walk in the seventh inning, then the next kid lays down a heck of a bunt to set the table for the Givin kid. After we got our four runs, our bats went cold. It’s just execution things. It’s not one or two guys or one or two plays, we’ve just got to clean up the execution all around.”

Rock Canyon posted a 2-0 lead in the first inning, poking a string of hits into outfield gaps. The Jaguars doubled that lead in the third inning, with a leadoff single, a triple and then a balk. Central starter Jake Strickland then gave up a walk, a double and another walk to load the bases, but struck out the final batter to end the inning.

Strickland faced one batter in the fourth inning before he was relieved by Dakota Dunham, who went the rest of the way.

Yost said his pitchers worked out of trouble well and competed against a lineup that features four college-bound players, including Givin, who is committed to Xavier University.

“I’m extremely happy with the pitching today,” Yost said. “Jake really competed and we got a lot out of him. He didn’t let his emotions get the best of him and he was really spot on for most of the game. He got himself into some jams, got down early 4-0, but he battled and battled and we were able to get some hits for him. Dakota kept us right there until the end. I’m pleased with the effort out there. Some of the execution, we’ve got to clean that up, but the effort, competitiveness was right where we need it to be.”

Grand Junction 5, Rampart 3: The Tigers (2-0) overcame four errors and scored in each of the final three innings to top the Rams (0-2).

A pair of errors by Grand Junction in the first inning gave Rampart a 1-0 lead, but the Tigers tied it up on a Rams’ error in the bottom of the first. That score stood until the fourth inning, when Jared Chapman roped an RBI double for Grand Junction, but the Tigers stranded two runners in scoring position to end the inning.

From there, Rampart took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth, then Grand Junction tied it in the bottom of the frame. A solo home run from Shawn Garcia in the bottom of the sixth broke the tie, and Chavis Nourse clubbed a triple before scoring on a fielder’s choice to pad the lead.

“Today was more the resolve,” Grand Junction coach Justin Little said. “We didn’t have our best stuff today, but I think their heart came through. The whole team, guys coming off the bench making big plays or pitching. It was a good win.”

Fruita Monument 11, Horizon 10 (8): The Wildcats (1-1) saw their 9-2 lead evaporate in the top of the seventh inning as the Hawks (0-2) scored eight runs in the frame. Down 10-9 in the bottom of the seventh, Fruita tied the game, held off Horizon in extra innings, then manufactured the winning run in the bottom of the frame.

Tyler Tuell grounded out to start the bottom of the eighth inning, then pinch-hitter Tyler Boggs drew a walk. Gavin Brown singled to put runners on the corners and immediately stole second base uncontested. The Hawks intentionally walked Druw Sackett, which brought Zach Rush to the plate, and Rush smoked a hard line drive to right field that fell under the glove of the diving outfielder.

Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said his young team performed well against Horizon starter Jake Nickoloff, who threw a two-hitter against the Wildcats during the summer season. He added that the Hawks’ late rally wasn’t the result of any defensive breakdowns or poor pitching ­— Horizon just found gaps in the outfield and the Wildcats fought through the sharp swing in momentum.

“The momentum switched and it was all on Horizon’s side,” McLennan said. “To have the intestinal fortitude to compete and believe that we’re going to pull it out — for a young team, any win against a good team gives you confidence — but for a young team to win like that, I know we’re going to be OK moving forward and be able to compete.”


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