BOULDER — Gene Taylor’s struggled mightily the entire month of July. But August was a better month for the Legion A squad.
On Sunday at Scott Carpenter Park, Gene Taylor’s upset Rocky Mountain 5-4, 11-4 in the finals of the state tournament. Drew Bridges, voted the tournament’s most valuable player, was a big reason why his Grand Junction-based team is state champion.
Bridged allowed two runs in eight innings on the mound and batted just under .500 with a home run and seven RBIs for the tournament.
“I just tried to not change anything from the regular season,” Bridges said. “Keep a good approach at the plate, attack hitters on the mound and play my game the way I’ve been all year.”
Rocky Mountain defeated Gene Taylor’s 22-4 in the teams’ first meeting on Thursday. But when it needed to come up with the two biggest wins of its season Gene Taylor’s came through.
“We were able to fight back and just play our normal game,” Bridges said.
Bridges said pitching was the key to bouncing back against the Lobos’ vaunting lineup led by Carl Stajduhar (.474 with three home runs and 16 RBIs), the tournament’s most outstanding hitter. Gene Taylor’s head coach Dave Jahnke was glad the pitching staff showed up when it mattered most.
“Rocky Mountain is first class. They’re very, very good,” Jahnke said. “They’re a team that’s going to contend for the 5A state title next year. Today, we had the right mix of pitching to hold them to eight runs after they’ve been averaging 14 runs. We had to bring our best games of the year and we did.”
Gene Taylor’s Walker Williams allowed just four earned runs over 132/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and win and a save. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding pitcher after he gave up just two runs in a seven-inning start in the pivotal game two on Sunday.
Williams routinely got ahead with his fastball then turn to the curveball, change up and splitter to get outs.
“I felt like I was able to keep hitters off balance and most importantly get ahead in counts,” Williams said.
Williams said Gene Taylor’s was mentally prepared to attempt a two-game sweep against the Lobos and captured the momentum after winning the first game.
“We came this far. What would be the point of winning the first game if we didn’t win the second?” Williams said. “We knew that we were gonna play a great game and we had a good chance to win. It’s been done before and we knew we could do it.”
At 23-19, Gene Taylor’s advances to the Western regional tournament in Fairvield, Calif, from Aug. 9-13.
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