Wildcats roll past ThunderHawks
The Fruita Monument High School baseball team needed a game with no drama.
After two days of come-from-behind victories in the Bill Fanning Classic, the Wildcats took care of Prairie View 9-2 on Saturday at Canyon View Park.
“This was the only game we led start to finish,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “Any time you get wins like that, it builds confidence.”
In the first inning, the ThunderHawks loaded the bases with two outs against Fruita starting pitcher Drew Bridges. The sophomore right-hander got himself out of trouble by striking out Adam Jacobs.
Bridges gave himself breathing room in the bottom of the first. After Cody Rahmann doubled, Bridges laced an RBI single to left field.
Bridges threw the first three innings for the Wildcats, holding the ThunderHawks scoreless. He walked six and struck out six.
McLennan said the Wildcats work on tight pitch counts, and Bridges stayed in the game longer than planned.
“We are very strict on the pitch count, and Drew pushed the limit,” McLennan said. “But he got into a rhythm so we let him go a little longer.”
Fruita helped its cause in the third inning when senior Ryan Mixon led off with a triple. Rahmann hit an RBI single to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Fruita didn’t waste any time adding to the score, with TJ Pollock hitting a two-run inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning for a 4-0 lead.
Mixon, Rahmann and Pollock are three of the five Fruita Monument seniors who went 3-0 in the Fanning Classic for the first time in their high school careers.
“Our five seniors have been excellent,” McLennan said. “They provide a team atmosphere and help move the younger kids along.”
A couple of the underclassmen put the finishing touches on the lopsided win in the sixth inning. Junior Jace Griffiths hit a RBI single to score freshman Ty Burtard for a 9-2 lead.
“We swung the bats well up and down the lineup,” McLennan said of the Wildcats’ 16-hit attack. “We have things to work on, but coming into the season, I feel good about where we are at.”
McLennan should be feeling good heading into his third season as head coach. The Wildcats have an diverse group of experienced varsity players such as Pollock, Rahmann and Mixon, and talented underclassmen such as Bridges, utility player Dallin Wright and second baseman Ryan Blair.
“I read a poll somewhere and we were picked fairly low, but it’s probably because we lost all those seniors,” McLennan said. “These guys have taken it upon themselves to say ‘We’ll be the underdog,’ and I don’t want to say we have a chip on our shoulder, but we have some to prove.”
When it comes to the pitching staff, McLennan has options. During the Fanning Classic, the Wildcats used 10 pitchers, and although some of those players will see mostly junior varsity time, they all gained valuable experience.
McLennan said the Wildcats, who play Thursday at Centaurus, will have a pitching rotation that includes Rahmann, Pollock, Mixon, Wright, Jake Williams and Shai Fullmer.
“It was great for them to come out here and face a varsity hitter and have some success,” McLennan said. “I’m pleased. It was a good weekend.”