Tough to swallow: Wildcats’ lapses in sixth inning result in loss to Montrose

Surrounded by Fruita Monument players, Jay Pollock, center, whispers to his son TJ in the sixth inning Saturday after the shortstop went down with a knee injury. After a few moments, TJ left the game under his own power. He will undergo an MRI on Monday.

There are just some innings a team would love to have back.

For the Fruita Monument baseball team, the sixth inning of Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Montrose at Suplizio Field would qualify.

The Wildcats began the inning leading 6-3, but had a series of errors, walks, and base hits that allowed six runs to cross home plate. During that time, the Wildcats went through four pitchers and saw starting shortstop and relief pitcher TJ Pollock leave the game with an injury.

“We’ve been good about staying intense and playing through things (all year,)” Fruita coach Ray McLennan said. “All of a sudden, things got bad, they got worse, and then TJ got hurt and that makes it even worse.”

The inning itself didn’t have the worst start.

Montrose’s Jordan Passehl hit a single off starting pitcher Cody Rahmann to get on base, then Nick Brennan flew out.

But when Josh Kastendieck hit a ground ball to Pollock at shortstop, that’s when things started to go bad.

Pollock made a quick throw to second baseman Ryan Blair, who the umpires ruled was off the base, which was followed by a bad throw to first. Blair was charged with both errors on the play, and both Kastendieck and Passehl eventually scored.

After the play, Pollock was moved to pitcher, walking the first batter he faced before allowing two straight singles. During the second hit, he came down wrong, twisted his knee and was forced to leave the game.

Pollock’s absense affected the Wildcats not only offensively, where he had gone 2 for 3 with two home runs before the injury, but mentally as well.

“We had a tough time recovering from that,” McLennan said.

“You see a guy like TJ go down, he’s one of our leaders and one of our go-to guys. When he goes down it’s tough and you have to go through a bit of a grief cycle there.”

Pollock was able to leave the field on his own power, although McLennan was unsure how long he will be out for, pending the results of an MRI on Monday.

Jake Williams came in for Pollock and was replaced after three batters and one strikeout by Shai Fulmer, who ended the inning.

Montrose struggled early defensively, with starting pitcher Nate Robertson allowing six hits and six runs. He pitched into the second inning, but was replaced by Jeremy Storter after giving up a two-run home run to Pollock.

Storter retired the first 15 batters he faced and finished with 10 strikeouts in six innings pitched.

“I tried to keep us in the ballgame,” Storter said. “I had my curveball working, I had every pitch working.”

The Wildcats got their first hit off Storter in the seventh inning, a single from Jace Griffiths.  Ryan Mixon walked, and the two advanced on a passed ball. Rahmann hit a double and, and Griffiths scored to make it a three-run game with two men on base before Drew Bridges struck out to end the game.

“We did a good job there at the end,” McLennan said. “We got the tying run to the plate. A lot of times something like that happens and kids are going to lay down. I think we showed a lot of character at the end, which was good.”

Fruita (8-4, 2-2 Southwestern League) plays Central on Tuesday at Suplizio Field.


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