GRAND JUNCTION - After five innings of play on Friday at Suplizio Field the Grand Junction Tigers looked to be well on their way to a lop-sided victory against rival Fruita Monument. But an eight run sixth inning propelled an improbable comback as the Wildcats took over the top spot in the Southwestern League with the 11-9 win.
Geoff Baldwin had led the Tigers to a 7-3 lead with a strong outing from the mound, and with his 8th home run of the year before being replaced as the Tigers pitcher. Grand Junction was set to improve to 3-0 in Southwestern League play heading into next Tuesday's matchup with Central.
Then the sixth inning happened.
The Wildcats showed continued patience against Grand Junction's Conner Dixon who had relieved Baldwin, taking a handful of walks and then capitalizing with timely hits in route to an eight run inning.
Cody Rahmann drove in the go-ahead run with a two run single to right-center field. After the top half of the sixth, which lasted nearly 45 minutes, Fruita had taken an 11-7 lead.
The Tigers hadn't thrown in the towel just yet. Baldwin blasted his second bomb of the night in the bottom half of the inning with a line drive shot that easily cleared the right-center field wall closing the gap to 11-9.
Fruita was retired in order in their half of the seventh and a lead off walk from Joe Arnold to begin the bottom of the seventh was negated one batter later when he was doubled off on a Bubba Higgins line drive to centerfield. Ross Koepsell flew out to right for the final out of the 11-9 Fruita win.
Grand Junction falls to 2-1 in the SWL. Fruita improves to 3-0 taking over first place in the league.
The Tigers next game is another rivalry matchup when they take on the Central Warriors on Tuesday night, April 8 at Suplizio Field.
The Wildcats are off until Saturday, April 12 when they travel to Montrose to take on the Indians.