“We’re giving a lot of kids, a lot of experience at different positions”
The Crested Butte Babe Ruth team, the Blue Jackets, dropped its home opening game to Hotchkiss on Wednesday, May 28, but there is a caveat.
Due to the weather, several earlier games were rescheduled and several workouts were inside as winter refused to let go, curtailing Blue Jackets preseason workouts.
They managed to squeeze in one game early in the season, defeating the Gunnison 1 squad 13-0. But an unplanned two-week hiatus leading up to their home opener on Wednesday took its toll on the team’s progress.
“We should have nine games so far and we’ve only had four,” says coach Dave McGuire.
In addition, coaches Mickey Cooper and McGuire typically use the first half of the season to move players around, trying them in new positions.
“We’re giving a lot of kids a lot of experience at different positions,” says Cooper. “It’s not about winning every game, it’s about getting in shape and being ready for the playoffs.”
Jake Sunter started on the mound for Wednesday’s game and held Hotchkiss to a couple of hits, as the Blue Jackets defense allowed just one run through the first three innings.
The Blue Jackets struck early in the bottom of the first inning when Jenner Currier drove in a run on a double.
Sunter and Sam Evans knocked back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second inning, putting two men on base for Mick Osmundson.
Osmundson blasted an RBI double down the leftfield line to give Crested Butte a 2-0 lead.
Hotchkiss responded, scoring a run in the top of the third and were poised to add more with runners in scoring position and one out.
The runners took off on a high pop fly to shallow left center but Currier chased it down from shortstop for the grab and fired to second base for the double play, holding Hotchkiss to the lone run.
Currier, Sunter and Osmundson all connected for RBI base hits in the bottom of the third inning, giving the Blue Jackets a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the fourth.
After building the 4-1 lead, the Blue Jackets shuffled players through the defense and on the mound, following the coach’s early season philosophy.
Colin Dill, Troy Pike, Currier and Evans all got a chance on the mound, showing signs of a quality rotation come mid-season.
Ben Reaman gave the Blue Jackets some temporary breathing room in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI double to deep right pushing Crested Butte ahead by two runs but Hotchkiss came roaring back. Hotchkiss scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to build a 9-5 lead.
Evans drove in two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on a single to centerfield but Hotchkiss held on for the 10-7 win.
The Blue Jackets were one game wiser when they headed down valley to face Gunnison 2 on Friday, May 30. After falling behind 15-5 by the fifth inning, the Blue Jackets came roaring back to tie it up 16-16 by the bottom of the seventh inning.
Gunnison took advantage as the home team to push the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh to edge out a 17-16 win.
“We had a lot of good hitting and everyone contributed,” says Cooper. “We have a lot of potential, —we’ve just got to get a lot of games in.”
The Blue Jackets dropped their second home game of the season to Paonia 15-8 on Monday, June 2 and have a home game scheduled for Friday, June 6 at 4:30 p.m. at Tommy V Field.
The team will be missing Sunter and leading hitter Currier, who is 14 for 15 thus far this season, on Friday.
The trick now for McGuire and Cooper is getting a full squad to the games and bringing the younger players up to speed.
“We’ve got some young kids and we’re looking for them to get more comfortable and relaxed as the season goes on,” says McGuire.