Solid pitching, defense lift ‘Dogs to Fanning Classic win

Palisade bounced back from a season-opening loss to beat Horizon 7-0 on Saturday during the final day of the Bill Fanning Memorial Classic at Canyon View Park.

Winning pitcher Kurtis Grady gave up a single against the first batter he faced, then didn’t allow another hit in 5 1/3 innings. Grady struck out only two batters, but Bulldogs coach Aaron Howard said Grady did a good job throwing strikes.

“He kept the ball in the zone and made them put the ball in play,” Howard said. “He made them have to make contact. On defense, and that was really our focus today, we made all the routine plays. We cleaned that up from yesterday when we had a couple errors.”

Aaron Salazar and Troy Levinson each went 2 for 3 for Palisade. Salazar had a clutch, two-run double in the third inning that got the Bulldogs on the board.

Howard said Palisade’s offense did a better job putting the ball in play against Horizon, adding the Bulldogs are focused on taking smooth swings, rather than swinging for the fences.

“I liked our approach today a lot better,” he said. “We swung for contact, and that’s something we can focus on moving forward.”

Fruita Monument 8, Greeley Central 2: The Wildcats used a big second inning to beat Greeley Central.

Grant Stagg had a two-run double to start the Wildcats’ four-run second inning, and Conner Cronkhite pitched four solid innings to get the win.

Sam Graf added a pair of hits and an RBI and Chris Cordova had three hits, including a triple, for the Wildcats (2-1).

Brighton 9, Grand Junction 0: Winning pitcher James Smith threw a two-hitter with one walk to blank the Tigers (1-1).

Grand Junction coach Donnie Alexander said Smith didn’t throw exceptionally hard, but he placed his pitches brilliantly.

“He threw his fastball and curve for strikes at the beginning of the count, the middle of the count and behind in the count,” Alexander said.

Tristan Lafferty’s single broke up Smith’s no-hit bid in the fourth inning.

Grand Junction pitcher Neil Ryan threw six innings, giving up five runs, eight hits and two walks, and Alexander said his outing was better than the numbers suggest.

“Neil did a fantastic job,” Alexander said. “He threw some really good pitches out of the strike zone, and they put the bat on the ball and found a hole.”


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