If first impressions mean anything, watch out for one of the kingpins of the annual Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament.

The Woodward Travelers, who have participated in every event for all 40 years of the tournament, opened with a bang on Thursday at the Runyon Sports Complex.

First, the Travelers disposed of Cherry Creek with a six-inning run-rule 9-1 decision. Creek has won the most 'Nuch titles (9) in the history of the tournament. Woodward is next in line with eight crowns.

Then, Woodward broke out the mercy-rule card again by trouncing Greeley 9-1, also in six innings. The 2-0 start wasn't lost on Woodward head coach Mark Ward.

"Coming in here knowing that Creek is very well respected program and this Greeley team has some good players, we had to go 2-0 today," Ward said. "We did save some pitching and were able to do it with two run-rule wins. I don't know if we're that much better, we just played really well today."

Ward knows how much of a grind the four-day, 37-game tournament can be and understands you must have a good plan with your pitching staff.

"Last year we played Pueblo in the semifinals," he said. "And they had a really good club. Not to make excuses, but we had depleted most of our relievers, most of our staff. Our goal (this year) is to win and get there (semifinals) and be in better position. We have a leg up being 2-0."

Behind unorthodox left-hander Dillon Bumgarner (yes, he's a distant relative to Madison of the San Francisco Giants), the Travelers had their way with Greeley.

Bumgarner scattered nine hits but was only touched for a run in the fourth inning. He threw strikes, threw to contact, striking out only two batters.

"Just tried to throw strikes, keep the ball in the zone and not allow them to string hits together," Bumgarner said.

He was spotted a big lead from the get-go as Woodward exploded for five runs in the first inning and added three more in the second for an 8-0 lead.

The Travelers batted around in the first inning, getting RBIs from five different players on four hits. Colton Hunter supplied an RBI double, Brady Benedict, Parker Ward and Ayden Page run-scoring singles and Patrick Hunter a sacrifice fly.

Woodward was at it again in the second as Drake Kerr led off with a single, Ty Goss walked and Colton Hunter doubled for the second time to knock in a run. Jett Brown followed with an RBI single and Ward picked up his second RBI with a fielder's choice.

All of the damage came against Greeley starter Koy Jorgensen, the Class 3A Player of the Year in Colorado. Jorgensen, a left-hander, excited after an inning and a third, giving up seven hits and eight earned runs.

Greeley's lone run came in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Hunter Miller.

Woodward triggered the run rule when Goss led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to the left-field wall and Colton Hunter drove him in with a single into right field.

That gave the Travelers their 18th win in a row and improved their overall record this summer to 24-2.

"What I'm proud about a bunch of 2020 guys who are going to be seniors," Ward said. "They are good players and they are doing an exceptional job."

Colton Hunter finished with a 4-for-4 performance, scoring two runs and driving in three. He had three doubles and a single.

"First game I went 0-for-2 with a walk," Hunter said. "The game has its up and downs. It'll humble you and put you on a stool, too. First game I was trying to pull everything and I talked to Colonel (Coach Ward) and he told me to think center, right-center.

"We're fundamentally sound. It's hard to beat us because we don't like to lose, a bunch of guys who play small-school baseball, know how to win and put runs on the board."

 Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached at jletofsky@chieftain.com or on Twitter @JeffLetofsky

Woodward 9, Greeley 1



Jorgensen, Channell (2) and Page; Bumgarner and Kissler. WP—Bumgarner (5-1). LP—Jorgensen.