Heating up for the ride ahead
Cowboys crush Coal Ridge, edged out by Olathe
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2012-04-26
GHS Baseball — The Cowboys are closing in on a bid as the dark horse in the 2012 Class 3A playoffs.
Two one-sided wins over Coal Ridge on Friday — followed by a nail-biting 8-7 loss to Olathe on Tuesday — has the Gunnison High (GHS) baseball team gaining confidence heading into the last four games of the Western Slope League (WSL) season.
“We just have to play every game like we’re playing the world championship,” said senior Jesse Duft. “We’ve battled with the best teams in our league this year and we just need to keep battling.”
GHS moved to 6-9 overall and 6-8 in the WSL, where they are saddled in sixth place. The top six teams will advance to the playoffs at the regular season’s end.
“I think they’re just seeing the ball better right now,” said GHS coach Tom Percival. “They’re starting to execute in the situations where we need to execute the most.”
The Titans found themselves on the executioner’s block in the second inning of Friday’s first game, as the Cowboys scored 15 runs to spark an 18-2 win.
Duft stroked a two run home run to highlight the outburst, while Caleb Wilson and Ryan Costello each had a single and a triple in the inning. Cody Henry kept the Coal Ridge bats at bay, striking out five and giving up just three hits in the game.
“We just came out with the attitude that we were going to win,” said Duft.
Wilson finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored. Costello went 2-for-3 at the plate and Chad George was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
The Cowboys spread their offensive outbursts around more in game two, to come away with an 11-3 victory.
Back-to-back three run innings in the third and fourth gave GHS control. Tylor Cutrona had a single in the third and followed with an RBI double in the fourth, while Costello hit an RBI triple in the fourth.
Costello struck out eight in six complete innings on the mound for the win. Duft took home the save, putting down three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Cowboys held a 7-5 lead over Olathe with just nine outs remaining on Tuesday, but the Pirates came back to bite GHS in the end, 8-7.
After being pushed around by Olathe in a 21-12 slug-fest two weeks ago, the loss did come with an upside for Percival.
“Even though it’s a loss, it’s one that should give us some confidence in ourselves,” he said. “It’s another step in proving that we can play with those top teams.”
Cutrona and Costello were 2-for-4 at the plate, while Wilson scored three times and stole three bases. George finished with one hit and two runs scored.
Confidence could come in handy for the Cowboys this coming Saturday, as they have to travel to Rifle for a doubleheader. The Bears will enter the contests as the fifth ranked team in Class 3A.
“They’re going to be a team that plays baseball the way it should be played,” said Percival. “Our focus is to do the same thing.”
Game times are slated for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Rifle High School.
(Matt Smith can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com)