Walk-off: Greeley West takes advantage of free passes to top Tigers
Giving up walks can be a death sentence in baseball.
The Grand Junction High School baseball team found that out the hard way Friday at Canyon View Park during the second day of the Bill Fanning Classic.
The Tigers had a two-run lead heading into the seventh inning against Greeley West. In that final inning, Grand Junction gave up four walks, which led to five runs and a 11-8 deficit.
The Tigers (1-1) rallied to score two runs in the seventh, but fell 11-10.
“If you score 10 runs, you should win the game,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “We need to throw strikes, and if they hit it and beat you, fine.”
In addition to the tough ending, Grand Junction didn’t open the game very well. Junior Brandon Thompson walked four batters, leading to four runs.
Thompson was replaced in the second inning by Garrick Lemley. The junior came in and struck out five batters over the next two innings.
“He showed us he can pitch,” Rush said. “He’ll be strong.”
Lemley struck out nine batters in the game, and with Lemley taking control on the mound, the Tigers responded offensively. Grand Junction scored one run in each of the first two innings before having a big inning in the fourth. With the bases loaded, catcher Aaron Berk hit a three-run double to deep left to put Grand Junction up 7-5.
Greeley West answered with one run in the sixth on Lupe Garza’s RBI single that scored Max Morgan to cut the lead to 7-6. Lemley struck out the next three batters.
“The fourth was good, but then we gave up a run in the fifth,” Rush said. “There wasn’t a lot of good today.”
After the Spartans’ five-run seventh inning, Jesse Smith led the charge for Grand Junction with an RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh.
Smith went 3 for 3 and scored three runs.
“It’s early, but you still want to win these games,” Rush said. “You learn a lot early in the year about what kids you can go with, and what kids you can’t.”
Although it was a tough way to begin the season, in the long run, the Tigers should be all right.
Offensively, the Tigers have returning starters hitting one though five in Tim Gastineau (shortstop), Charlie Willett (second base), Jayke Brock (right field), Berk (catcher), and Andy Willett (center field).
“I think we can be a great team,” Brock said. “We all know how to play the game really well, but now we need to work harder and get consistency.”
Senior Tyler Stanford is taking over for Geoff Baldwin at first base. Smith, Sean Rubalcaba, Cory DeRush, Mike McGovern and Casey Burns are all expected to be regular starters.
On the mound, the Tigers are still anticipating the return of their No. 1 starter, Charlie Reicks. The senior has been having severe headaches, but could return as soon as today, when the Tigers play Elizabeth at 10 a.m. at Canyon View Park.
In addition to Reicks, the Tigers have Stanford, Lemley, Brock and sophomore Steve Baldwin to round out the rotation.
“We have pitchers, but I don’t know if we have depth yet,” Rush said. “When you give up 11 runs with no errors, you don’t have depth, but we’ll be fine.”