Warriors edge Indians in regular-season baseball finale
For some of the Central High School baseball players, they were playing their last game.
The 10 seniors wanted nothing more than to have some fun and go out a winner.
They did that Monday, defeating Montrose 4-3 in a lightning-delayed Southwestern League finale Monday afternoon at Canyon View Park.
“We’ve been together for a lot of years, so we wanted to come out, play our game and have fun,” senior Taylor Haynie said. “It could be the last opportunity for all of us to wear a uniform. I guess our mentality was to play loose and have fun.
“We’ll remember this game, maybe for the rest of our lives.”
The Warriors (13-6, 6-4 SWL) finished tied for second with Fruita Monument and Durango, but the Wildcats clinched the second Class 5A district berth out of the league by virtue of a tiebreaker. Durango qualified in Class 4A along with Montrose (10-9, 2-8 SWL).
“We’re an inning or two or hit or two away from being where we want to be, but at 13-6 you can’t look at it as a bad season,” Central coach Chuck Yost said.
Senior Alex Kitzman, who several coaches thought was the best pitcher in the league, pitched a shutout through five innings as the Warriors built a 4-0 lead.
“That kid was good on the bump,” Montrose coach Landon Wareham said. “We haven’t seen anyone better. We had some good swings, but we couldn’t string enough together.”
Kitzman (5-3), who signed with Otero Junior College, limited Montrose to three runs on eight hits, two walks and struck out four in 51⁄3 innings. Kyle Rowe gave up one hit and struck out two in relief.
“Alex came out, threw strikes and did a great job,” Yost said. “Kyle Rowe did a fantastic job in a tight spot.”
The pitchers received just enough help from the offense, which squeezed across four runs on four hits off Montrose senior Bryce Gaber.
Gaber allowed three earned runs on four hits, three walks and struck out four in six innings.
Central scored two runs in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk and a groundout.
Haynie, who was 1 for 3, singled home a run with two outs in the fourth inning for a 3-0 lead.
“We had a stolen base then he comes up big with a hit to score a run,” Yost said. “That’s what wins games, the two-out hits. We didn’t have those against Fruita and Junction.”
Alec Rupe led off the fifth with a single and scored on a wild pitch.
Montrose strung together three consecutive hits in the sixth inning to score three runs and chase Kitzman.
Jake Bolstad drove in two on a single and scored on Zane Hemond’s double to the right-center gap.