MONUMENT — It was much closer than Pueblo West would have liked, but the second-ranked Cyclones managed to hold onto a one-run lead to defeat Palmer Ridge 8-7 on Tuesday.
With heavy winds and cold temperatures, the natural elements seemed to take a toll on both teams.
"I'm not happy at all with the way our guys played with the conditions of wind and cold," said Pueblo West baseball coach Dan Sanchez. "I was happy with our pitchers today and the way they threw in this wind and cold."
Ty Garcia picked up his first win of the year, and relief pitcher Kaleb Woltz kept Palmer Ridge scoreless.
The game started with Pueblo West getting two runs off an error in the first inning. When Palmer Ridge came up to bat at the bottom half, Garcia struggled to find the strike zone, resulting in Palmer Ridge's first two batters reaching base. Garcia struck out the next two batters, but a pair of singles and a double by Palmer Ridge gave the Bears a 5-2 lead.
That would prove to be Palmer Ridge's biggest inning, though, as the Bears wouldn't score again until the fifth inning.
Throughout the first five innings, Pueblo West consistently put up runs. The second inning included a monster home run from Zach Thomas that put the Cyclones within one run of the Bears.
Pueblo West tied the game at five in the third inning, took a 7-5 lead in the fourth, and then made it 8-5 in the fifth.
Garcia got into trouble in the fifth after Palmer Ridge drove in two runs off of a fielding error and three singles that put Palmer Ridge within one run of Pueblo West. Luckily for Pueblo West, Woltz came in and got a strikeout for the last out of the inning, taking away the momentum from Palmer Ridge.
Coming off a tournament and going 1-2, Pueblo West needed the win, as well as the opportunity to play on a dirt field.
"Our biggest issue right now is that we've played on nothing but turf fields," Sanchez said. "We're going to have to get on a natural surface because we're just not used to it."
"Overall our guys just need to get tougher," Sanchez said on the natural elements that go hand-in-hand with spring sports in Colorado.
Thomas went 2-for-2 for Pueblo West with three RBIs. Brodie Blackford was 2-for-4.
Garcia threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs, but just one earned. Woltz struck out four in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Palmer Ridge will host Pueblo County on Thursday, and Pueblo West will host Grand Junction Central on Friday.