Stanford regains confidence with complete-game shutout
With nine victories in nine games, the Grand Junction High School baseball team didn’t need a confidence builder. At least the team as a whole didn’t.
Coach Kyle Rush was hoping Thursday’s nonleague game against Conifer would be a boost for Tyler Stanford.
The junior left-handed pitcher answered the call, pitching a complete-game shutout as the Tigers (10-0) defeated the Lobos 8-0.
“He’s had a rough couple of outings,” Rush said.
Stanford (2-0) is known for having a lively ball, but he kept things simple Thursday.
“I was trying to keep it low, hit my spots (and) keep it on the ground,” he said.
The plan worked. Stanford had only one strikeout but let his defense do the bulk of the work.
“He was ready to go,” Rush said. “The rest of us weren’t.”
The offense struggled early. The Tigers loaded the bases in the first and second innings but had only two runs to show for it, one coming off Aaron Berk’s infield single.
“We got guys on; we just couldn’t get them over,” Rush said.
Berk, who faced a similar situation in Tuesday’s 6-4 comeback victory over Fruita Monument, said he was focused on helping any way he could.
“I figured this would be a good game for me to sit back, relax and hit a couple of balls,” he said. “For me, it isn’t about getting the big hit.”
Batting fifth in the lineup behind Geoff Baldwin has put him in some interesting situations.
“Batting behind Geoff is a little different,” Berk said of opposing pitchers pitching around Baldwin to get to him.
Berk went 2 for 3, including a fifth-inning double. Charlie Willett also had two hits for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Stanford allowed only four base runners after issuing a walk to the leadoff batter.
Despite the unbeaten record, Rush said his offense needs to produce better in scoring situations.
“I don’t think we’re playing our best ball and we’re still winning ballgames,” he said, although he doesn’t expect that trend to continue unless the offense picks up.
Conifer’s two pitchers, Boone Henry and Devin Riely, combined to strike out eight Grand Junction batters.
Weather permitting, the Tigers travel to Parker on Saturday to face Ponderosa before resuming Southwestern League play next Friday at Montezuma-Cortez.