Trio of HRs in sixth lifts ‘Cats to win
Evan McDermott’s first varsity home run couldn’t have come at a bigger moment.
The Fruita Monument High School junior hit a three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday night to rally the Wildcats to a 7-4 victory over Central at Suplizio Field.
“It’s a pretty good opportunity to come through for the team,” McDermott said. “I was just looking to bring in the runner on third, but ended up getting a lot more than I thought I would.”
Two batters later, sophomore Ty Burtard hit his first varsity home run to cap a six-run inning for the Wildcats. Drew Bridges, who came off the bench, led off the inning with a solo shot.
Central starting pitcher Alex Kitzman, who had a complete-game victory against the Wildcats 10 days ago, limited Fruita to one run through five innings.
“I thought we had a good approach tonight,” Fruita coach Ray McLennan said. “We knew we weren’t going to beat (Kitzman) in the early innings. He threw a lot of pitches against us last week and our kids were excited to see him. The first five innings it was tough. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league.”
Kitzman set down nine of 10 batters from the third to the fifth inning before the Wildcats were able to hit him. Kitzman allowed six runs on seven hits, two walks and had eight strikeouts.
“I knew Kitzman really well from the last time I saw him and hit him pretty good that time,” said McDermott, who was 3 for 5. “I came in with the same approach and came through this time. He’s a horse. He’s definitely going to go every time Central has a big game coming up. After 15 innings of seeing him, we finally got through to him with six runs that inning.”
“With Kitzman, it’s all about timing,” McDermott said. “You really have to time his fastball and he throws a lot of strikes so he’ll give you one. You just have to put that bat on it.”
While Kitzman was shutting down Fruita (10-5, 4-2 SWL), the Warriors (10-5, 3-3 SWL) were able to build a 3-1 lead against Dallin Wright.
Aaron Reece doubled home the first run in the second inning, then Kyle Rowe followed with a RBI single. Kyle Serrano singled home a run in the third.
Wright and the Wildcats didn’t allow a Central runner past second base until the seventh.
The Warriors pushed one run across and had the bases loaded before Wright recorded the final two outs.
“We almost brought (Wright) in the other night, but he’s a starter,” McLennan said. “He’s going to give you 100 pitches and they were going to be a solid 100 pitches. He was going to make the hitters hit the ball. He got a little tired at the end, but when I went out there I could tell he wanted to finish it. I feel you need to let a senior do that.”
That’s why McLennan left Wright in the game despite allowing four consecutive Central batters to reach base in the top of the seventh.
“It was a good conference. We talked about the hitter and how we were going to pitch each one. You could see it in his eyes he was going to get us home and he did.”