Tigers, Wildcats meet Tuesday at Suplizio Field

Oh, how they missed you, Suplizio Field.

Canyon View Park is a top-notch ballpark, a field that high school baseball coaches and players call “interesting” or “deep” or “a place where it’s just hard to score.”

The prep teams play a lot of games at Canyon View every season, but there’s nothing like playing under the lights at the big stadium.

The first high school game since last spring at Suplizio Field is at 6 this evening.

Fittingly, it pits area rivals Grand Junction and Fruita Monument, both of whom can clinch a spot in the Class 5A state tournament with a win.

“I don’t think they knew what they had until this year,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said about playing at Suplizio.

What they have is regarded by players and coaches as one of the best college and minor league ballparks around.

That could make it the filet mignon of high school parks.

“It’s certainly one of the best places to play a high school game,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “It’s a neat park, neat atmosphere and I think a decent crowd will be there (tonight). Throw in the GJ-Fruita rivalry, and it’s a great setting.”

Tigers second baseman Jeff Hansen will lead off in the bottom of the first.

“It’s always been one of the nicest college baseball fields in the country,” Hansen said. “It’s that good. After that first pitch goes by, things will be normal. Until then, it all builds up.”

Durango (11-7, 6-3 SWL) leads the league, followed by Grand Junction (12-6, 5-3), Fruita (11-6, 5-3), Montrose (11-3, 4-3), Central (11-6, 4-4) and Montezuma-Cortez (7-12, 0-8).

Grand Junction can clinch the top Class 5A SWL spot with a win.

Fruita can do the same.

If the Wildcats lose to Grand Junction and Central loses today at Montrose, Fruita can clinch the second and final SWL 5A playoff spot.

But today is also about teenagers at Suplizio. The players not only will switch from a view of the Bookcliffs to one of Grand Mesa, they will go from a pitcher’s park to one generally considered hitter-friendly.

“The ball seems to fly there,” McLennan said. Both he and Rush played at Suplizio when they were in high school and college.

Baldwin verbals to Iowa Western CC: Grand Junction starting pitcher Steve Baldwin has verbally committed to play baseball at Iowa Western Comunity College in Council Bluffs.

Why?

“Well, they’re ranked No. 1 in the nation,” Baldwin said.

Grand Gents rugby in state semis: The Grand Gents high school rugby club team defeated the Aurora Warriors on Saturday 15-8 in a state quarterfinal.

Which means for the second consecutive season, the Gents (5-3) are headed to the Colorado state semifinals. The Gents will play Boulder at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver.

The state final is at 6 p.m. on May 9, at Infinity Park in Denver.

Phillip Gonez and Hayden Quintano had one try apiece for the Gents on Saturday.

“We dominated the latter part of the second half of the game,” Gents coach Doug Evans said.

Evans awarded Man of the Match awards to Jonny Sanchez for forwards and Wehihow Pretorious, who had one conversion and one penalty kick, for the backs.

Tennis Time: Southwestern League champion Grand Junction heads the Class 5A regional at 8 a.m. on Thursday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Central’s No. 1 singles player ,Aimee Basinski, is a returning regional champion.

Tiger Invitational: Grand Junction’s Tiger Invitational track and field meet is Friday and Saturday at Stocker Stadium.

Action begins at 4 p.m. on Friday with field events, and running preliminary events starting at 5 p.m.

The meet, which includes all four Grand Valley schools, plus teams from throughout the state, continues at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“It’s the biggest meet of the year for Grand Junction,” Grand Junction coach Sean Henry said. “We’ll have Pomona and a few other Denver teams here as well.”


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