The loss marks the team’s first of the season, with the boys’ most recent victory coming in the form of a blow-out as they pounded Southwestern 4A league rivals Montezuma-Cortez, 11-1, last Saturday. Although the Tuesday loss was to a well-stacked Grand Junction team (with a record of 10-2 in their Southwestern 5A division,) Indians’ head coach Landon Wareham had anticipated more firepower out of his team on Tuesday.
“We left runners on base and couldn’t get the big hits we needed,” Wareham said following the Tuesday afternoon match-up, during which Montrose players couldn’t seem to get comfortable in the batter’s box. Standing stubbornly in the way of the Indians’ offense was Tigers’ pitcher Tyler Stanford, one of his team’s division’s best pitchers.
“They had a good kid on the mound,” Wareham said of his team’s inability to unleash their offensive armaments on Tuesday. The Indians suffered a total of 12 strikeouts on Tuesday, compared to just two in their previous game.
The Indians’ singular offensive high point came from batter Nathan Robertson, who was the only Indians player able to crack Stanford’s code. Robertson went three for four at the plate on Tuesday, and was the only runner to touch home base after teammate Brice Gaber drove him in at the bottom of the third inning.
Defensively, the Indians were able to uphold strong barriers against a late-game Tigers onslaught, after three Tigers batters reached base in the top of the seventh. With the bases loaded and no outs, Montrose’s Gaber (who had just left the mound after a solid six-inning pitching performance) snagged a zinger of a line drive to right field, surprising the Tiger runner and posting a double-play at first base. Indians closer Jake Plankis then came to the rescue with a strike-out, offering the Indians a glimmer of hope to come back from the three-run deficit at their final at-bats.
Tigers’ pitching was unyielding even in the 7th, however, finally managing to break Robertson’s batting streak then serving Gaber a full-count strike-out for two back-to-back outs. Indians batter Glayden Berry finally got around the Tigers’ mound, literally, with a low flying line drive up the middle that offered his team its last opportunity to stage a comeback. A final strike-out from the Tigers drove the final nail in the home team’s coffin, however, with the Tigers taking the win four runs to one.
Tigers coach Kyle Rush said that Stanford’s strong performance on the mound on Tuesday “kept us in the game,” adding, “It feels good to come out with a win against Montrose.”
The Indians will face another tough adversary this weekend, as they play Fruita Monument (another 5A force with a record nearly rivaling that of the Tigers’) on Saturday at Grand Junction’s Suplizio Field.