PARKER – Teams need talent and luck to get through the playoffs. The Fairview baseball team had the former but didn’t have enough luck to keep playing.
The Knights rode the arm of senior Skyler Limber but an unfortunate line drive that caught him in the right leg took away some of his effectiveness. Grand Junction Central jumped on that for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and came away with a 3-1 win in the first round of the Class 5A Region 5 playoffs.
It was an abrupt end to No. 3 Fairview’s season after it looked like the Knights would get by the second-seeded Warriors and advance. Limber was nearly unhittable until Seth Barker’s liner to lead off the fifth hit him in the hamstring. He got through that inning but was clearly affected by it in the sixth when Central took control.
“I don’t think that’s the excuse. I was still throwing hard, I was still doing everything I could,” Limber said. “A couple of plays and one good hit and that was the difference. That’s playoff baseball.”
Limber was cruising through the Warriors, allowing just two hits and striking out six, and after taking the liner in the leg he walked it off and got through a clean fifth.
He struggled with his control warming up for the bottom of the sixth, and Central got two quick singles and had runners on the corners with one out. The Knights had a chance to get out of it unscathed but a potential double play ball to Danny Sheridan at shortstop yielded just one out and the go-ahead run scored.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a handle on it but that’s playoff baseball,” Fairview coach David Castillo said. “It’s the people that capitalize on mistakes.”
Limber tried to sneak a high fastball by Hunter Kelchner in the next at-bat, but he jumped on it for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.
“I was hoping I could blow it by him up,” Limber said. “With the way I throw if you get a barrel on it, you put one in the air, it goes a long way. He beat me on that one.”
The Knights (12-8), who had loaded the bases in the third but didn’t score, kept fighting. They loaded them again in the seventh and scratching a run across but Kelchner got Stone Streeter to hit a comebacker to end the game.
“It’s definitely disappointing, especially it being the last game of my high school career,” Limber said. “At the end of the day you control what you can control.”
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Grand Junction Central 3, Fairview 1
At Legend High School
Fairview000 000 1 — 1 7 0
Grand Junction Central000 003 x — 3 5 0
W — Hunter Kelchner. L — Skyler Limber.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Mossa 4-0-2-0, Sheridan 4-0-2-1, Carpenter 3-0-0-0, Streeter 3-0-1-0, Rock 3-0-0-0, Lewitt 3-0-0-0, Willemsen 2-1-0-, Owens 3-0-1-0, McGill 2-0-1-0. Totals 27-1-7-1.
Grand Junction Central hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Balleweg 2-0-0-0, Steves 3-1-20-, Kirby 2-0-0-1, Kelchner 3-1-1-2, Barker 2-0-0-0, Roper 1-0-0-0, Salazar 2-0-1-0, Dunham 2-0-0-0, Weller 2-0-0-0, Estep 2-1-1-0. Totals 21-3-5-3. HR —Kelchner (1 on in 6th).
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Limber 6-5-3-3-0-7.
Grand Junction Central pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kelchner 7-7-1-1-2-5.