ERIE — Having been kept off the diamond due to snowy conditions, the Erie baseball team kicked off its season Friday with just one day of fieldwork under its belt prior to the opener.
The lack of preparation didn’t show, as the Tigers earned a dominant 7-4 victory over visiting Denver North.
“I was impressed at how well we handled the baseball defensively, just because we haven’t been out on a field,” Erie head coach Harold Simmons said. “And we took some okay swings. We haven’t been out here to see many live looks, so all in all I thought we did a decent job considering that we haven’t been able to get outside.”
Erie, which was set to play Centaurus Tuesday before a snowstorm forced the squads to reschedule, was led by junior ace Caleb Crites. The starting pitcher allowed just two hits over five innings while striking out seven.
“It was wonderful to actually get out here and play,” said Crites, who threw 40 of his 59 pitches for strikes. “Fastballs (were key). They couldn’t really catch up to it so I just stuck with it.”
While Crites was busy mowing down Viking hitters, his teammates’ bats began to thaw. Senior catcher Ryan Fesmire got the Tigers on the board in the third inning, plating two on a one-out single.
Kyle Leahy added a run an inning later, after he doubled and then scored from second on a throwing error. Leahy reached base again in the fifth, connecting for a two-out single that scored two and pushed the lead to 5-0. Batting in the No. 7 slot, the sophomore finished the day 3 for 3 at the dish.
That cushion proved to be more than enough for Crites, who retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. Denver North was shut out until it made a late rally with two outs in the seventh against reliever Dylan Brink, which proved to be too little, too late.
“(Crites) pretty much went fastball all day long,” Simmons said. “He mixed in a little (knuckleball) and a little change-up, but for the most part he spotted the fastball and threw it in really well.”
Erie has little time to savor the season-opening win, as the Tigers turn around and play host to Prairie View on Saturday.
“We come right back and play again tomorrow, so it should be a better team that we’re going to see and we’re going to play a better game,” Simmons said.
Erie 7, Denver North 4
At Erie HS
Score by innings:
Denver North 000 000 4 — 4 4 2
Erie 002 122 x — 7 8 1
W — Crites (1-0). L — Jaquez.
Denver North hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Vigil 4-0-3-3, D Gurrola 3-0-0-0, Gonzalez 3-0-0-0, Mendoza 2-1-0-0, J Gurrola 3-0-1-0, Salazar 2-1-0-0, Bowen 2-0-0-0, Alexander 1-0-0-0, Vargas 2-1-0-0, Archuleta 2-1-0-1. Totals 24-4-4-4. 2B — Vigil, J Gurrola.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — C Brink 4-2-2-1, Wilden 3-2-1-1, Fesmire 3-1-1-2, Reider 3-0-0-0, Crites 3-0-0-0, Conilogue 3-0-1-0, Leahy 3-1-3-2, Jensen 2-0-0-0, Ramey 3-1-0-0. Totals 27-7-8-6. 2B — Leahy. 3B — C Brink, Wilden.
Denver North pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jaquez 4-6-5-5-3-5, Alexander 2-2-2-1-1-4.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Crites 5-2-0-0-0-7, D Brink 2-2-4-4-5-1.