Zanski delivers clutch hit in 7th for Tigers

Zanski delivers clutch hit in 7th for Tigers

Tyson Zanski, center, is congratulated after a walk-off base hit as Grand Junction came from behind Saturday afternoon to defeat Durango at Canyon View Park.

There’s no bigger spotlight than strolling to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs.

Grand Junction’s Tyson Zanski likes the spotlight, doesn’t mind the pressure and smiles when he talks about it.

“I live for those moments, I love those situations,” he said. “I just put the ball in play, that’s all I wanted to do.”

When the senior popped a low, outside fastball down the right-field line, all the Tigers bolted from the dugout with big smiles.

The walk-off base hit in the bottom of the seventh ended a strange game and gave Grand Junction an 11-10 Southwestern League win over Durango at Canyon View Park on Saturday.

“I just wanted to get a pitch that I could put into play and trust myself and have confidence and hit the ball,” Zanski said,

Zanski’s RBI single capped a four-run seventh that started with an Owen Taylor walk, but the inning, like the game, was a smattering of strangeness that included two walks, an RBI double by Tristan Lafferty and a Durango error on a possible game-ending double-play ground ball.

Dillon Fante tied the game 10-10 on a one-out single after Lafferty’s double.

Playing in blustery conditions, with wind gusts tormenting outfielders, the teams had a combined 10 errors and each team had 12 hits.

“It was an odd game and both teams came out pounding, seven runs in the first inning, so we knew it was going to be a barn burner,” Grand Junction coach Donnie Alexander said. “They’d score, then we’d score and it just went back and forth.”

Grand Junction (12-6, 5-4 SWL) grabbed its first lead at 7-5 with four runs in the fourth after sending nine batters to the plate.

Tyler Heinsma had a lead-off triple, then the Tigers took advantage of an error and got an RBI single from Kaleb Johnson.

Then it was Durango’s turn to send nine to the plate, scoring five in the fifth to take a 10-7 lead. That odd inning included two bases-loaded walks, a bunt single and a sacrifice fly. The big hit came from Hayden Sill, who lashed a two-run double into left.

The game’s weirdness started right from the start when Durango (10-7, 5-4 SWL) scored four runs, aided by two errors by the Tigers. In the bottom of the inning, Grand Junction responded with three runs and benefited from two balks by Durango’s Lawrence Mayberry. Taylor and Lafferty had RBI in the inning.

Mayberry was nipping at the corners and keeping the Tigers off balance to go the distance. The 5-foot-6 sophomore was effective but rarely overpowering and didn’t record his first strikeout until the seventh, which was also when he gave up his only two walks.

Fante started for the Tigers but struggled with his control through 3 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked five.

Leading 5-3, Durango had a chance for a big inning in the fourth but Ty Dixon gunned down a runner at third from left for the first out. He then relieved Fante on the mound with the bases loaded and promptly struck out the next two hitters to end the inning.

Dixon was effective in relief after the fifth inning and struck out two in the seventh to end a threat.

“It’s great to see these guys battle, they just don’t quit,” Alexander said. “They just keep going and keeping going. From pitch one to the very end they just kept banging it.”


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