Three-run 4th lifts ‘Cats past Montrose

For the first three innings Tuesday afternoon, the Fruita Monument baseball team chipped away at Montrose ace Tyrus Lopez.

The Wildcats worked deep counts, spoiled potential strikeout pitches by fouling them off, and took a measured approach at the plate.

Then, they finally broke through, scoring three runs in the fourth inning and two runs in the fifth to edge Montrose 5-4 in a Southwestern League game at Canyon View Park.

The run started with an opposite-field bloop single by Grant Stagg, then an RBI double to right-center by Chad Goodrich. The opposite-field hits continued with a roped single from Luke Goodrich, and when Montrose’s third baseman misplayed a long throw from right field, Sam Graf scrambled home for what proved to be the game-winning run.

It’s become something of a pattern for the Wildcats. Their wins are never pretty, but at least in the SWL, it’s always been a win.

Is Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan tired of the gritty, one-run, grind-it-out wins that Fruita Monument keeps producing?

“Heck no,” he said. “A win’s a win. You take them any way you can get them in this league.”

Although the Wildcats (9-5, 5-0 SWL) have had a roundabout way of pulling out victories, they’re the only unbeaten team in SWL play.

Fruita struggled through the first two innings, although pitcher Sam Schroeder actually carried a no-hitter through the first two innings. Five walks and a hit batsmen in the first inning allowed Montrose (8-2, 3-2) to plate three runs.

In the top of the third inning, a walk and a stolen base by Braden Reese set up a run when Josue Perez clubbed an RBI single. But the Indians only finished with two hits, and they struggled to generate offense when the Wildcats threw strikes.

Conversely, the Wildcats benefited from seven timely hits.

“We knew we were going to have to battle with (Tyrus) and take our opportunities when we could get them,” McLennan said. “We did a good job of just hanging in there and staying in the game, so when we got opportunities, we were able to capitalize on those big at-bats.

“I think any time of you give this team some life, they’re going to take advantage of that. They’re good teammates. They’re always cheering for each other, and this team has some incredible chemistry. They know that it takes 15, 18 kids to win a ball game like this. They know that at any given time, it could be your time to shine, and just up and down the line we did great things today. That’s what you have to do against a team like Montrose.”


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