Lucas Hess/Durango Herald
On a day as cold and nasty as Saturday, errors and other mistakes are bound to pop up in a baseball game. The team that best takes advantage typically comes out on top.
Advantage: Grand Junction Central.
On a day marked by blustery conditions and some snow flurries, the Warriors jumped out early before finding enough offense to beat Durango High School 11-8 on Saturday at DHS.
The loss knocked DHS a half-game behind idle Montrose in the Southwestern League.
“They just stayed with it, and credit Central for beating us (Saturday). ... Just didn’t play our best baseball (Saturday),” DHS head coach Rob Coddington said.
Two big innings essentially did the damage for the Warriors. Central scored four times in the first inning and four more times in the fourth before adding a pair in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Danny Rowley (4-1) took his first loss of the year on the mound, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on seven hits while walking five and striking out four.
“That hurt us to spot them four runs in the first inning and have to climb back into it. I think we had a hard time mounting anything after that,” Coddington said.
The two teams combined for seven errors Saturday, with Durango committing three. The big blow came in the fifth inning, when Brett Serrano’s groundball appeared set for a double play. But the DHS first baseman dropped the ball, allowing a run to score that put Central up 10-8.
Durango third baseman Joe Brennan said with cold, wet conditions, getting the right grip on the baseball becomes increasingly difficult.
“It’s hard to get the grips and to get your quick movement to the ball because it’s cold, your muscles are all tight, and it hits the grass, the grass is wet, so the ball’s real slippery,” said Brennan, son of Charlie and Christi Brennan.
After falling behind 4-0 to start the game, Durango began to rally. Rowley’s RBI single in the first plated Easton Garcia.
On the play, the baseball struck the umpire positioned immediately behind the pitcher, and pinch runner Ty Worley was thrown out at third as Garcia scored. The DHS bench vehemently argued the ball should’ve been dead upon striking the umpire.
After a walk and a hit batsmen, Joe Keresey flew out to end the inning. Garcia’s two-run homer an inning later, his second of the season, plated two to cut the lead to 4-3.
Brennan’s RBI triple in the third scored Blake Dunlap, who had doubled to open the inning. One batter later, Brennan scored on a passed ball to give DHS a 5-4 lead.
The Warriors answered with four in the top of the fourth inning, thanks in part to a two-RBI single from Kyle Rowe. DHS responded with three more in the fourth to tie, with Rowley’s two-RBI double and stolen base setting the tone for Blake Dunlap’s sacrifice fly.
DHS, however, wouldn’t score the rest of the way, failing to take advantage of a pair of Central errors.
Ryan McIvor picked up the win in relief, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings.
“He kept us off-balance in the end,” Brennan said. “It didn’t seem like we ... got good pitches.”
Garcia was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two driven in, while Rowley was 2-for-3 with three driven in and a run scored for Durango (9-5, 4-2 SWL).
Isaiah Mayberry, a recent call-up from the junior varsity ranks, caught and stepped into the batting order when designated hitter Marcus Sansoni left in the first inning with an illness. Mayberry was 2-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored.
DHS also was without usual No. 3 hitter Mark Kobrin, who was serving a mandatory one-game suspension after being ejected Friday.
Josh Weller was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Warriors (8-5, 2-3 SWL), and Frank DiThomas added a pair of hits and scored a run.
DHS will play rival Montezuma-Cortez at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Lot of things can happen. Every game’s important from here on. That’s always how it is in the league,” Coddington said.