Tigers claw past Wildcats: Stanford’s stellar mound performance lifts GJ
The Grand Junction High School baseball team is constructed in such a way so a different player will come up with something big in every game.
Wednesday night at Suplizio Field, that player was pitcher Tyler Stanford, who’s 6 1⁄3 inning, three-hit performance propelled the Tigers (6-1, 1-0 Southwestern League) to a 9-2 win over Fruita Monument (6-3, 0-1 SWL).
Stanford had seven strikeouts, and didn’t give up a hit after the third inning. Stanford’s outing was impressive since it was the first time he’d pitched since March 10.
“He threw the first game over spring break, so it was two weeks since he’d been in a game,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “It was good to see him get some rhythm going.”
The senior left-hander found his groove after giving up a solo home run in the third inning to TJ Pollock that put the Wildcats up 1-0. Stanford settled down after the blast, getting Ryan Mixon and Cody Rahmann to ground out to shortstop Tim Gastineau to end the inning.
“They got that home run off of me, and when you make mistakes, they are going to capitalize,” Stanford said. “But after that, I got into a rhythm, was hitting my spots and didn’t make any more mistakes.”
Trailing by one run in the third inning, the Tigers responded when Charlie Willett hit an RBI single to score Gastineau and tie the game at 1-1. With Stanford shutting down the Wildcats offensively, the Tigers pushed their lead to 3-1 by adding one run in the fourth inning off Mike McGovern’s RBI double, and one run in the fifth inning when Gastineau scored on a Fruita Monument throwing error.
“Everyone in the lineup can hit,” McGovern said. “We have a lot of guys that can make plays.”
Although Fruita had trouble offensively against Stanford, the Wildcats got solid production from their own starting pitcher as Rahmann also pitched 61⁄3 innings, striking out seven batters. After retiring Aaron Berk for the first out of the sixth inning, Fruita coach Ray McLennan brought in reliever Jake Williams.
“(Rahmann’s) pitch count was up and we thought it was the right time,” McLennan said. “He did a good job, and we felt like we had a good matchup.”
Andy Willett led off against Williams with a single, which was followed by a Stanford walk. With two runners on, McGovern laced a double to score Willett and give the Tigers the 4-1 lead.
McGovern finished the day 2 for 2 with two RBI.
“McGovern did a great job,” Rush said. “He had an opportunity to step into the (designated hitter) role a couple of weeks ago and he’s taken advantage of it, hitting the ball well.”
The Wildcats couldn’t get out of the inning, bringing in Dallin Wright and Connor Ruckman in relief. Charlie Willett’s two-run single sealed the victory for the Tigers.
“I thought our guys did a good job of playing, because that’s a good baseball team,” McLennan said. “We were right there with them, and if we don’t make a couple mistakes here and there, we are in that game.”
Charlie Willett finished the day 2 for 2 with three RBI. The Tigers face Palmer Ridge at 2 p.m. on Friday at Suplizio Field. Fruita Monument plays at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Loveland.
The Fruita Monument girls tennis team defeated Grand Junction 4-3 in a dual Wednesday at Fruita Monument. The Wildcats were led by their doubles teams, which won three of four matches, including Grace Gaglione at No. 1 doubles and Kenyon Hayward No. 1 doubles. The pair defeated Madison Gurley and Emmie Madison 6-3, 6-3.
“The doubles really set the tone,” Fruita coach Clint Davis said. “This was a big confidence builder.”
Davis said it was the first time in his seven years as head coach that Fruita has defeated Grand Junction in a dual. Grand Junction got a win at No. 3 singles when Samantha Weinberg defeated Taryn Moon 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.