What a difference a day makes.
One day after losing a tough 10-6 game to Grand Junction in their home opener, the Durango Demons’ baseball team responded with a massive 12-10 upset victory against Grand Junction Central.
Durango High School head coach Rob Coddington made several changes to his lineup, and the team rewarded his moves with a stellar performance Saturday at Walden Memorial Field.
“We shook up the lineup. I had some discussions that were very good with players involved in that, and they responded very well,” Coddington said. “Guys took care of their own business as individuals and played well as a team.”
A day after giving up 10 runs on only four hits while struggling with errors and hit batsmen, the Demons had three less costly errors and didn’t plunk a batter in their second game in as many days.
DHS (5-5, 1-3 Southwestern League) tallied 16 hits in six innings, including home runs by Hayden Sill and Jeremy Szura. The Warriors (9-3, 2-2 SWL) had 12 hits in the game.
Szura had a two-run shot in the second inning, and Sill’s two-run homer came in a huge spot in the fifth inning to produce the game-winning runs.
For the Demons, winning Saturday came down to a complete change of attitude.
“We came into the game with a new attitude, and we definitely needed a win to give us a confidence boost,” said Blake Dunlap, who went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, one run batted in and a stolen base to go along with the save on the mound. “After the loss (Friday), we all got together as a team and shook it off. We had to come in with a new attitude, and that changed the team.”
Dayne Rowley started the game on the mound for DHS and limited the Warriors to four hits in three innings of work. He walked two and earned four runs.
Lawrence Mayberry pitched three innings in relief, earning the win. Mayberry allowed six runs – five earned – on seven hits and one walk. He struck out two batters and induced five groundball outs.
Dunlap came on to close the seventh inning with the Demons leading 12-10. He allowed a leadoff hit, but the Demons turned a double play to eliminate the threat. Brandon Martinez reached on a throwing error after hitting a grounder to shortstop that should have ended the inning, but DHS catcher Isiah Mayberry threw Martinez out at second base to end the game.
“We had a lot better effort from our pitchers,” Coddington said. “Dayne Rowley showed what he can do in three solid innings. Lawrence Mayberry did a great job keeping us in the game, and Blake Dunlap did a great job finishing off a great team.”
Lawrence Mayberry was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases for DHS. Casey Dunlap went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Riley Jaye, who moved from the nine-hole to the No. 2 spot in the DHS batting order, was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
“It felt really good to be up in the batting order with everybody else,” said Jaye, son of Dolores and Richard Jaye. “I have been swinging nine-hole and just trying to flip the lineup over all season, but it feels great to be up there and get more at bats. To show some power off at home felt great. I finally got my shot.”
Coddington moved Szura from shortstop to second base Saturday after Szura struggled with four fielding errors Friday; he answered with a great defensive game Saturday.
“He responded like a senior leader should respond. I am very proud of him,” Coddington said. “He is swinging one of the hottest bats in the conference right now, and he is still a leader no matter where he is on the field.”
DHS stole four bases in the game, and Bryce VonTersch executed a perfect squeeze bunt to bring in a run in the third inning.
“It was great to execute those things. We took advantage of having guys on base and moving them around,” Coddington said.
The Warriors had three fielding errors in the game, and head coach Chuck Yost was unhappy with the defensive play, though he credited the Demons for playing a tough game.
“Durango is always a good team and always plays hard. We can’t make mistakes against good teams like them,” Yost said. “They took advantage of everything we did.”
Grand Junction Central came into the game with some momentum after a big win against CHSAANow.com No. 1-ranked Montrose and a 14-3 win Friday against Montezuma-Cortez. After losing Saturday, Yost knows his team can’t relax in any game in the tough SWL.
“It is a grind. The league champ could finish 7-3. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody in this league,” he said. “Sometimes it is harder to get out of league than it is to get through to the playoffs.”
The win moved the Demons out of the basement of the SWL and into fifth place. With plenty of time remaining and big home games coming up against Montrose (7-1, 2-1 SWL) on Friday and Fruita Monument (8-5, 4-0 SWL) on Saturday, the Demons know there is still time to get into the league race. Fruita Monument and Montrose both already have league wins against DHS this season.
“Our bats can match up with anybody in this league,” said Blake Dunlap, son of Aaron and Julie Dunlap. “We will be a new team for the rest of the season.”