Six-run inning helps GJ put Durango away
Grand Junction High School’s baseball team learned a lesson Friday about responding to a deficit.
In the Tigers’ first Southwestern League game of the season, Durango took a 2-0 first-inning lead, led by doubles from John Ugai and Aaron Coats.
“They came out and punched us right in the face,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said.
“Durango is the best team we have seen this year by far. They are well-coached and they take good hacks at the plate.”
Although it was Durango’s offense that came out firing, it didn’t take long for a Grand Junction team that has scored in double digits all season to fight back.
The Tigers’ offense quickly answered, scoring six runs in the second inning on the way to a 9-4 win at Suplizio Field.
“Durango is good and I am happy to get a win,” Rush said.
Grand Junction starter Conner Dixon (4-0) pitched into the sixth inning and even though he gave up nine hits, he kept Durango at bay, allowing only two more runs after the first inning.
“Conner did a great job shutting them down,” Rush said. “We had to get it going quick.”
In the big second inning, Grand Junction (7-0, 1-0 SWL) took advantage of Coats, the Durango starting pitcher, who walked two batters with one out.
Andy Willett singled to score Dixon and Charlie Willett and Zeph Quigley each hit two-run singles.
Quigley came through with runners in scoring position for the Tigers, driving in three runs.
“Zeph has felt like he has been struggling at the plate,” Rush said. “But today when we needed runs, he put the ball into play.”
Taking a 6-2 lead into the third inning, Geoff Baldwin added two more with a two-run double to score Andy Willett and Tim Gastineau.
Baldwin went 2 for 2 with two walks and also pitched the final two innings for the Tigers, retiring every batter he faced.
The Tigers scored eight runs off Coats, the Demons’ ace. Grand Junction’s ninth run came in the seventh inning off Ben Southworth.
“We have a lot of respect for Coats,” Rush said. “He is a great pitcher and it was good to see that type of pitching.”
At noon today at Canyon View Park, Grand Junction plays Montezuma-Cortez, ranked in the
top 10 in Class 4A.
“Cortez puts up a lot of runs so we have to jump on them early,” Quigley said. “Then hopefully our defense and pitching can hold.”