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Athletes of the Week: Ryder Mancuso and Palisade baseball

The Bulldogs are ranked #1 heading into the state tournament
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 10:20 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Early Wednesday morning, CHSAA released the full playoff field for the Colorado state baseball tournament. To nobody’s surprise, Palisade enters as the number one seed.

The Bulldogs have been unstoppable this year. They easily won the Western Slope League, going 21 and 0 in conference play. Ace pitcher Ryder Mancuso is leading the way with sensational numbers on the mound. Mancuso struck out 100 batters this season, second most in the whole state. He also led the team in hitting with a .561 batting average.

Palisade’s pitching is impressive across the board, with Melesio Perez, Ryker Harsha, and Josh Zotto providing an incredible amount of depth behind Mancuso. Every single one of their pitchers has an earned run average under 2.65.

Bulldogs head coach Nate Porter says this is the strongest team he’s ever coached, both on and off the field. He believes they have the character and the talent to make a deep run.

”We set the academic bar a lot higher than normal, even higher than CHSAA standards or D51 standards, and these kids rose to the occasion.” Porter told us. “Their attitudes are good and I think that’s one of the big reasons why we’re 21-2. We definitely have the talent, but it takes a lot more than talent to be a good baseball team.”

On Tuesday night, the Grand Junction Lions Club recognized Mancuso as one of eight outstanding student-athletes in the Grand Valley. He made the team as a freshman, coming into his own as an upperclassman.

“If the seniors lead like we should be, and the juniors follow in our footsteps, we’re going to set ourselves up,” Mancuso says. “We’re hitting all our goals. We just have to keep working hard everyday.”

Palisade enters the state tournament with enormous pressure as the number one seed, undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs last won a baseball championship in 1969. Their title run starts Saturday against Aurora Central, with the first pitch shortly after noon at Palisade High School.

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