Mistakes costly in La Junta baseball's loss to Kent Denver

Ken Hamrick
LA Junta Tribune
La Junta High School's Steven Salas (22) tags out Kent Denver's Joe Roode who was attempting to steal third. The Tigers lost to the Sun Devils 5-3.

It all came down to two things for the La Junta High School baseball team's 5-3 loss to Kent Denver Saturday at Potter Park.

The first thing was falling behind early again. The Sun Devils scored three runs in the top of the first inning. They added a run in the second and fourth innings to account for their scoring.

"It made the difference in the ball game," said LJ coach Ryan Denahy. "We can't spot three runs in the first inning and expect to just turn it around right away. We have find a way to start fast and get after it and be more aggressive on offense by putting the ball in play."

The other thing was missed opportunities. After scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth and loading the bases with only one out later in the inning, a base running mistake ended any other chance of scoring in the frame.

Then after scoring another run in the sixth, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out again in the seventh. However, La Junta was unable to bring the runners home to end the threat.

"Two big innings where we had some traffic with the bases loaded," Denahy said. "Earlier in the game, we had a mental error on the bases and it cost us big. They turned it into a double play and they were out of a jam. That last inning, we built them up again and got them loaded and didn't come through with that clutch hit."

The Sun Devils pitching staff held La Junta to just five hits in the game. Accounting for the hits were Trevor Johnston and Jay Grimsley both with a double, and Zaymien Peteque, Nathan Frankmore and Chris Salas each with a single.

Luke Garner was the Tigers' starting pitcher and he was tagged with the loss. He had six strikeouts and five walks and allowed five runs on seven hits.

Johnston finished the game for La Junta and gave up no runs and two hits while striking out three and walking two.

La Junta (0-6) will open Tri-Peaks League play on Friday as it will travel to Ellicott for a doubleheader. The first game begins at 11 a.m.

"We start our league play with two games at Ellicott," Denahy said. "Not a great start to the season so far, but we're by no means out of it. We can turn things around in get after it in league play and we're just looking to improve every day."

KENT DENVER 5, LA JUNTA 3

Kent Denver 310 100 0 — 5 9 3

La Junta 000 201 0 — 3 5 2

Evans (W), Shipman (5) and Nutter, Evans (5). Garner (L), Johnston (5) and Frankmore.

Tribune-Democrat reporter Ken Hamrick can be reached by email atKHamrick1@gannett.com