Tigers need win, Durango loss to clinch SWL title
The Grand Junction High School baseball team could be knocked off the top of the hill for the first time since 2004.
Although the Tigers have qualified for the 5A state playoffs, they could watch the Southwestern League championship fall into the hands of Durango today.
The only way Grand Junction could earn the SWL title is if Durango loses today to Montezuma-Cortez and the Tigers defeat Central tonight at 6 p.m. at Suplizio Field. If both teams win, they’ll finish with 8-2 records in the league and Durango would win the title by way of a third tiebreaker.
According to Southwestern League rules, after league record (both would be 8-2) and head to head competition (they split), the tiebreaker is the record against the team that finished directly below them, which would be Fruita Monument. The Demons swept the Wildcats and the Tigers split with Fruita.
“The past few weeks the guys have been playing hard,” Durango coach Rob Coddington said. “We haven’t been here for a while, so it’s nice to be back.”
With both teams in the playoffs, they will be waiting for the state playoffs bracket to be released Wednesday afternoon. It is a true seeding bracket that ranks the top 32 teams, with the top eight teams hosting a district Saturday.
League finish is important in determining the district hosts, but there are more important requirements. The Colorado High School Activities Association baseball bulletin says the seeds are based on, but not limited to, overall record, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, strength of competition, record against common opponents and geography.
Despite potentially finishing with a 15-3 record, coach Kyle Rush doesn’t like the Tigers’ chance to host a district.
“The chances are slim, and I don’t expect us to be hosting a district,” Rush said. “There are teams on the front range that are playing well, like Fort Collins who is second in the their league, but ranked third in state. So teams like that would get to host.”
Rush said he thinks Durango is also on the bubble to be hosting despite playing so well lately. Coddington said he wouldn’t be surprised to be traveling.
“It’s a true seeding, so we might have to play up (in Grand Junction), or on the Front Range,” Coddington said. “So we’ll see.”
Durango has won its past five games and could finish with a 13-6 record.
“We have a lot of momentum we want to roll through to Tuesday,” Coddington said after the Demons’ 14-3 win over Central. “We have to stay aggressive.”
Grand Junction faces a Central team it defeated 13-3 earlier this season.
“Central will come out ready to play,” Rush said. “It’s important for us, and it will be a seeding game.”
Since opening up the season with 10 straight wins, Grand Junction has gone 4-3 down the stretch. Regardless, Rush said he is excited about the way the Tigers are playing.
“We are playing better than we were a couple of weeks ago,” Rush said. “We have been up and down at times, but we have won some games that put us into the playoffs.”