Durango catches cat scratch fever

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Despite a 10-4 loss Saturday to the Grand Junction Tigers in their regular-season and Southwestern League finale, Durango High School seniors Cole Dunegan, Ty Elliott, Connor Dugan and Sean Blanchard were all smiles as they celebrated Senior Day.

By Ryan Owens Herald staff writer

The Grand Junction Tigers’ bats sizzled early. The Durango Demons, meanwhile, had a tough time swatting the soft stuff. The Tigers scored in each of the first four innings, and the Demons’ late rally wasn’t enough as the Durango High School baseball team fell 10-4 to Grand Junction on Senior Day Saturday at DHS.The Tigers (11-7, 6-3 Southwestern League) plated two runs in the first inning, one in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth on DHS starting pitcher Ty Elliott (0-1), who allowed eight runs (six earned) on 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings.“Honestly, they were hitting the ball where we weren’t,” said Elliott, son of Ahne and Russ Elliott. “They were just making contact, and they were getting the ball nowhere near where we were.”

Ben Wiley threw 3 1/3 innings of relief and didn’t allow any runs until the Tigers tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh and final inning. DHS head coach Rob Coddington said scoreless innings will need to become a more routine occurrence if DHS lands itself in the playoffs.

“It’s important for us to try and throw up some zeros against some of these teams that can hit. Didn’t happen for us early. Tough to come back when a team jumps to a lead on you like that,” Coddington said.

Meanwhile, Durango (9-10, 4-6 SWL) struggled to get going against Grand Junction’s Caleb Coleman, who faced the minimum through three innings and finished by allowing four runs (none earned) on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Coleman’s offspeed stuff flummoxed the Demons, who didn’t help themselves when they did earn baserunners. Two Demons reached in the first three innings, but both of those were erased by key baserunning blunders at second base that led to easy outs for the Tigers. “I’m not sure where that came from, but that’s definitely something we’ve got to work on and try and correct before we find out if we have a chance at the playoffs or not,” Coddington said. The Demons broke through in the fifth inning thanks to timely hitting and three defensive miscues by Grand Junction. Durango scored four runs in the frame to cut an 8-0 Grand Junction lead in half, but despite getting the leadoff runners on in the next two frames, Durango failed to get any closer. “At the start, we weren’t hitting that starting pitcher. ... We’ve never been really good at hitting the offspeed, slower pitchers,” Elliott said. Elliott was 2-for-2 with a run scored before exiting with an ankle injury. Blake Dunlap and Connor Dugan both doubled, and Isiah Mayberry singled and scored a run for DHS.

Dillon Fante was 4-for-5 with two RBIs for Grand Junction, Owen Taylor was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and Tyler Heinsma was 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Now, Durango will wait for Wednesday’s playoff brackets to be released by CHSAA to see if its name will be on a line for the third consecutive year. A playoff berth seems likely with Durango sixth in Class 4A in wild-card points entering the weekend’s play.

rowens@ durangoherald.com

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