It wasn’t baseball weather, but it didn’t matter to the Durango High School baseball team.
The Demons battled through the cold and a biting wind to earn a vital 4-1 victory against Grand Junction Central on Friday at DHS.
“It was a lot colder, but we’re used to this climate,” DHS pitcher Gavin Mestas said. “I was ready to go, just stayed warm with the jacket on and was ready to get this win for us.”
The win gave Durango a two-game lead on Central for third place in the 5A/4A Southwestern League standings and has the Demons only a half game back of Grand Junction for second place. The win also marked the fourth in a row for DHS.
Mestas’ performance on the mound was key to the Demons’ success, as the senior pitched a complete game. He allowed six hits, walked two batters, hit one batter and struck out five.
“He’s tough to hit,” DHS head coach Eric Baker said of Mestas, who also provided a double at the plate. “This is a pretty good hitting league, and he was able to hold them down pretty well.
“He goes out there and competes hard, doesn’t walk a lot of people and makes them earn everything. If we can play some defense behind him, it’s pretty tough.”
The Warriors (5-11, 1-4 SWL) got two runners on with one out in the top of the first, but Mestas got cleanup hitter Ryan Weller to ground into a fielder’s choice then struck out Tristian Ammerman to get out of the jam.
Still 0-0 in the third inning, Durango (9-4, 3-2 SWL) had a good chance to break the tie after back-to-back singles from Jordan Woolverton and Gage Mestas to lead off the inning. But the Demons couldn’t muster any more hits and left the two freshmen stranded.
The Demons broke through with four hits in the fourth inning, including two bunt singles.
With one out and two runners on, Fynn Hyson laid down a bunt to advance the runners. The bunt rolled down the third-base line and was on the verge of rolling foul, but Weller, Central’s third baseman, scooped up the ball while it was still on the line and all runners were safe.
“We tried a couple of bunts for base hits just to see what happens,” Baker said. “We weren’t really sacrificing, just wanted to show late, put something down and see if we could make something happen, and it worked out for us.”
During the next at-bat, Woolverton singled up the middle to drive in two runs.
The next at-bat saw Gage Mestas single to right field to score Hyson, then Ryan Genualdi hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Woolverton.
The Warriors got one run across in the top of the sixth inning. Weller led off the inning with a triple and later scored on a wild pitch.
Central tried to put together a two-out rally in the top of the seventh when the Warriors got runners on second and third, but Mestas got Paul Salazar to ground out for the final out to secure the win.
Dakota Dunham pitched all six innings for the Warriors. He struck out seven Demons, walked one and hit one. All four runs against were earned.
The Demons racked up nine hits in the win, five of which came from Gage Mestas and Woolverton.
“It was a great job out of them,” Gavin Mestas said of the two freshmen. “I truly expect that out of those two. They played varsity football this year, and they can handle pressure. They’re great athletes, very coachable kids and have been ready to go from the start, just like every other kid out here.”
Gage Mestas finished the day 3-for-4 with one RBI, Kegan D’Aleo was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, and Woolverton was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored in his fourth game back after breaking his left arm during basketball season.
“He’s doing a great job and had some good swings,” Baker said of Woolverton. “He’s looking good at the plate and certainly doesn’t look like he’s a month behind the rest of the kids. I expect him to keep getting more and more comfortable and continue to produce for us.”
The Demons and Warriors will close out the series with a game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at DHS.