What a DeRush: Outfielder’s big hit in eighth lifts Tigers past Warriors

Central’s Spencer Hicks slides into home to score a run in the fourth inning of the Warriors’ 8-7, eight-inning loss to Grand Junction at Suplizio Field.

When it was time to make a difference, Cory DeRush didn’t wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by.

Tuesday night at Suplizio Field, the Grand Junction High School senior outfielder hit a two-run single in the top of the eighth inning to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead over Central. DeRush’s hit was followed by Charlie Willett’s two-run double, which propelled the Tigers to an 8-7 victory over Central.

“(DeRush) had a huge game tonight,” Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said. “He’s a great nine-hole hitter for us, and someone who goes unnoticed in the field because he never makes a mistake.”

After Central tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, starter Scott Clow showed his fatigue in the eighth, walking the first two batters and allowing a single to Tanner Peterson to load the bases. Before the final inning, Clow was pitching well, allowing seven hits and striking out nine in seven innings.

“Scott Clow did a good job, take nothing away from him,” Rush said. “But he gave us some opportunities by walking a couple guys and we took advantage.”

DeRush made the senior lefty pay, scoring Michael McGovern and Marcus Wirth with his single and chasing Clow from the game.

“I needed to get a hit,” DeRush said. “We had to hold ourselves together in a tough situation.”

Both teams came into Tuesday’s game on two-game losing streaks. Grand Junction (12-4, 5-2 Southwestern League) had lost two straight league games and Central (3-10, 1-5 SWL) was coming off of two straight one-run losses.

“We needed to win this game,” DeRush said. “We know (Central) has been in just about every game this year, and it was going to be tough.”

Grand Junction jumped out early when Aaron Berk hit an RBI double to center field in the top of the first inning to give the Tigers the 1-0 lead.

Undeterred, Central’s Joe Smith ripped a two-run home run off Grand Junction starter Tyler Stanford to put the Warriors up 2-1.

The Tigers answered back in the second inning, scoring two runs to retake the lead 3-2.

The two teams each scored one run in the fourth inning, setting the stage for the late-game fireworks.

“I thought it was a game with not a lot of intensity until the seventh inning, then it picked up,” Rush said. “It was almost like someone was waiting for the other team to win.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Alec Rupe and Lanny Baker both singled. Rupe scored on Joe Smith’s RBI single to tie the game at 4-4. With only one out, the Warriors had runners on second and third, but were unable to get any more across.

“We battled, but we need someone to step up and do a job,” Central coach Chuck Yost said. “We have too many strikeouts in key situations, and it’s the lack of putting the ball in play that’s killing us.”

Central nearly mounted another rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs, Rupe hit a three-run home run to bring the game to 8-7. Grand Junction’s Charlie Reicks ended any comeback hopes, striking out the final Warriors batter.

Central looks to bounce back today in a non-league game against Palisade. Grand Junction will be off until April 30, when it hosts Durango.


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