Elias Fiddler was sharp on the mound. Paired with a home run of his own and another from Sten Joyner, the Durango High School baseball team powered past cross-county rival Bayfield on Tuesday in Bayfield.
The two teams had to wait an extra week to play the first of two scheduled games against each other after rain forced last week’s contest to be rescheduled. The Demons were a bit sluggish at the plate early and fell behind 2-0 to host Bayfield after the first inning. Durango’s bats came to life in the third inning with three runs, and the Demons (9-11, 2-4 5A/4A Southwestern League) never relinquished the lead en route to a 9-4 victory.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, Fiddler launched a massive two-run home run well beyond the short porch in left field. That helped his own cause, as he also pitched 5 1/3 innings to earn the win on the mound. He allowed three hits while he struck out six and walked two. Of the four runs against him, two were earned.
“I felt really good,” Fiddler said. “My curveball was working really well. I spotted my pitches really well. And their big innings where we had a few errors, we shut down ... had good (defense) after that.”
The Wolverines (12-8, 8-0 3A Intermountain League) got the game going with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning from Jake Brandon with Alec Demko on base. But BHS struggled in the game with leaving runners in scoring position.
“Obviously, you’d want to win; it helps the RPI out,” Brandon said. “We wanted to come out harder than we did at the plate. We’ll try to get them again next time we play in Durango.”
After Fiddler’s big home run in the third gave the Demons the lead, the Wolverines threatened in the bottom of the third but left a pair of runners stranded in scoring position when Fiddler was able to strike out Max McGhehey looking to end the inning.
In relief of Fiddler, Joyner pitched 1 2/3 innings. He didn’t allow a hit or walk, and he had one strikeout. At the plate, Joyner was only a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. He went 4-for-4 with a solo home run in the seventh inning and a pair of doubles.
“You know, my timing just felt good,” Joyner said. “I was seeing the fastball low, and it just felt like I could get my bat around on anything. Everything felt pretty good, and my swing was just in rhythm. That’s all you’ve got to do, see the pitches well.”
While Joyner had three extra-base hits in the game, it was his one-out single in the sixth that started Durango’s decisive four-run inning.
Also at the plate for Durango, Dawson Marcum was 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and a run scored. Niko Mestas was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and Gage Mestas was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Brandon finished the game 1-for-2 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a pair of walks for Bayfield. Dillon Vroman was 1-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI.
Rhett Hoover was the starting pitcher for Bayfield. He went three innings and allowed three hits and three earned runs. He hit one batter and struck out two.
“He does the job,” Brandon said of Hoover. “He throws strikes, and that’s what we need. We need pitching that’s consistent, and he’s good at that. He’s inducing weak contact and he’s good at his job. So, when he’s pitching, we’re feeling pretty good.”
[image;2]In relief, Andrew Morgan threw 2 2/3 innings for Bayfield. He allowed five runs on seven hits while he struck out two. Brandon pitched an inning and allowed one run on one hit, two walks, a hit batter and he struck out one. Shane Moore pitched 1/3 of an inning and allowed one hit and struck out one.
The two teams will meet again at 3 p.m. May 13 in Durango. This weekend, Durango will close out league play at Grand Junction Central looking to solidify a regional playoff spot. Durango entered Tuesday’s game solidly in the picture at No. 26 in Class 4A.
“Today, we had to have a good game so we could get ready for our last league games against Central,” Fiddler said. “We should be able to pull out a win against them ... it should put us in the playoffs. But we needed this win today.”
Bayfield will hit the road to face Monte Vista in a doubleheader Saturday. One win will give the Wolverines the league title, but BHS will want a sweep and a chance at revenge next week against Durango to improve its RPI, as Bayfield was No. 11 in the Class 3A RPI going into Tuesday’s game. The Wolverines will hope to host a regional tournament.
“We want to win league; that’s what we’re here for,” Brandon said of playing Monte Vista. “We want to try to take it in a sweep, and so we’ll see what they throw, but I feel we’re ready to play them.”