Stepping onto the mound moments before throwing out the game’s opening pitch on Wednesday, Caleb Compton smiled as about 30 young fans seated down the third-base line chanted his name.
Then, over the next hour and a half, the 16-year-old pitcher, who doubles as a camp counselor for the city of Cortez’s Playground Days, pitched shutout baseball as the Southwest Colorado Little League’s senior all-stars defeated Arapahoe 10-0 in the first round of the state tournament.
“It was awesome to see (Compton) pitching and hear all the kiddos down the third-base line chanting his name,” Southwest Colorado’s manager, Tim Passell said. He allowed just three hits, struck out eight batters and didn’t issue any walks.”
Also playing a key role in the Southwest Colorado team’s victory were several standout performances at the plate, including that produced by Neil Farias, who scored the game’s opening run in the first inning and had a team-high two RBIs.
Southwest Colorado did not commit an error in the field and stole nine total bases. Erik Cruz started for Arapahoe and allowed six runs in three innings. He was relieved by Nate Salazar, who surrendered four runs in one and one-third innings of work.
Longtime Little League coach and local resident “Papa” Jack Squires was honored before the contest and drew loud cheers from the home crowd by throwing a strike on the ceremonial first pitch.
“I was joking with (Jack) before the game, and I said, ‘OK, you earned the start, go suit up,” Passell said. “Many of the players that Jack coached throughout the years were on hand to witness him throwing out the first pitch.”
With the win, the Southwest Colorado team advances to the second round of the state tournament, where they will faced off against the winner of a game between Orchard Mesa and Sherrelwood. The second-round game was at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, after The Journal’s press time.
According to Passell, the winner of this year’s state tournament will advance to a regional tournament in Seguin, Texas, on July 22-26.