Tigers’ trifecta

GJ pounds Rangeview with big hits, solid pitching

Grand Junction’s Tyler Heinsma drives the ball to center field Saturday to score a run and end the Tigers’ game against Rangeview in the fifth inning at Suplizio Field on the 10-run rule. Grand Junction won 13-3.

In the Southwestern League, you’d be hard-pressed to find three better hitters in the heart of the batting order than Grand Junction’s Tristan Lafferty, Owen Taylor and Tyler Heinsma.

Lafferty and Heinsma, while both solid hitters last season, have solidified themselves as top hitters by spraying extra-base hits with regularity. Taylor struggled for the first couple of games, but has since found consistency at the plate.

Saturday, led by the trio of sluggers and a solid pitching performance from Dillon Fante, the Tigers put everything together in a 13-3 nonleague drubbing of Rangeview in five innings at Suplizio Field.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but we let the game come to us,” Grand Junction coach Donnie Alexander said. “(Lafferty, Taylor and Heinsma) kept their approach at the plate, they didn’t get over-anxious, and they started hitting the baseball. We put pressure on their defense, and you know, good things happened.

“What it really comes down to for us is our ability to put the ball in play, one through nine, and I thought we did that really well today.”

Lafferty went 0 for 1, but he finished with three runs and started a 10-run third inning when he was hit by a pitch. Taylor was 1 for 3, and it was Heinsma who had the biggest day at the plate for the Tigers. The right fielder crushed a two-run triple to the left-center gap in the third inning and finished 2 for 3.

Heinsma, known more for his skills on the gridiron than the diamond, said he takes his cues from Taylor and Lafferty, more baseball-centric athletes.

“Tristan did a great job of getting on base, and Owen did a great job of moving him over,” Heinsma said. “All the credit goes to those two for setting me up, and really I thought everything clicked for the team today. The coaches have really given me a lot of confidence going up to the plate, and a lot of advice, especially from Tristan and Owen.

“They know a lot about baseball, and being able to go up to plate after hearing things from them is great.”

Fante went the distance on the mound, and after surrendering three runs in the first inning, he shut down Rangeview with his fastball and curveball.

The senior struck out five, including the final two batters he faced, giving up four hits and walking one.

“Everything was over the plate, and I just kind of found it after I got loose after the first,” Fante said. “The mound was tacky in the beginning, got a little slick, and then was fine when they patched it up. But, I mean, the mound out here is nice because you can just put your arm up and you’re throwing downhill. That helped me a lot today.”

Central 4, Doherty 1: Michael Price threw seven innings of one-hit baseball, and Wyatt McElwain hit an inside-the-park home run as the Warriors defeated Doherty.

The Warriors (5-1) threw one-hitters on consecutive days.

“I thought yesterday Seth (Krebill) did a good job of going out and hitting spots and changing speeds,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “Today, Michael went out there with a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to prove something after his game against Fruita Monument.”

Price struck out 11 batters and walked five.

“(Price) still went out there trying to mix things up, but he got ahead with his fastball, and they had trouble catching up,” Yost said.

McElwain drove in three runs with his inside-the-park home run, hit to dead center. Cole Rupe added two hits and scored two runs for the Warriors.

Farmington (N.M.) 14, Fruita Monument 5: The Wildcats led 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh in the Piedra Vista Tournament before “strange things started happening,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said.

Pitcher Sam Schroeder threw 5 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball before he was relieved by Jacob Worth.

A full-count walk by Worth with one out in the seventh inning snowballed into a 10-run inning for Farmington.

“We walked a guy who we thought we struck out,” McLennan said. “We ended up walking six batters that inning.

“I told them that it’s hard to win down there. We have to go down and earn our win, and it just got away from us in the final inning.

“Some weird things, the scoreline wasn’t indicative of how we played at all.”

Palisade 5-18, Summit 0-7: The Bulldogs swept a Class 4A Western Slope League doubleheader against Summit at Palisade.

During the first game, Cameron Campbell and Devan Lucero combined to shut out the Tigers. Campbell picked up the win, throwing three innings, striking out four and walking three. Troy Levinson went 2 for 4 with two doubles.

In the second game, Zane Abeyta went 4 for 5 with two doubles and three RBI to pace an 18-hit attack.

Kurtis Grady added three hits and three RBI for the Bulldogs (4-3, 2-0 WSL).


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