In a time fraught with chaos, there was a little bit of normalcy at Stansbury High School for a few hours on Monday evening.
For the first time in almost three months, the Stansbury baseball team played a game on its home field, and fans filled the bleachers and scattered camping chairs behind the backstop. The fact the host Stallions beat visiting Viewmont 14-0 in five innings to open the 2020 American Legion season seemed almost secondary to players and spectators alike. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the high-school baseball season – as well as most elements of everyday life – in mid-March, members of both teams shared smiles and laughs as their fans cheered them on.
In the case of Stansbury’s supporters, there were plenty of reasons to cheer on a picture-perfect June evening, headlined by senior-to-be Cayden Clark picking up right where he left off in March. Despite a 10-week layoff, Clark hit for the cycle — a single, a double, a triple and a home run — as part of a 4-for-4 night with four runs scored and five RBIs. In eight games this spring, Clark hit .577 (15-for-26) with 15 RBIs, five doubles, a triple and three home runs, including a 3-for-4 performance against Grantsville in which he hit two home runs and a double and drove in five runs.
Starting pitcher Tyler Harris retired the first three batters he faced, inducing a pair of groundouts to go with a strikeout. Then, in the bottom of the first inning, Bridger Shields, Clark, Colton Sundloff and Gage Miller hit four consecutive singles to lead off the frame, putting the Stallions up 1-0. Harris and Peyton Bleazard were each hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs, and two more runs scored when Nate Nunley drew a bases-loaded walk and Bryant Nicholes reached on an error.
Harris cruised through the second inning after hitting the leadoff batter with a pitch, retiring the next three Vikings in order. Clark led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run that cleared the fence in left-center field with plenty of room to spare, stretching Stansbury’s advantage to 6-0. The Stallions left the bases loaded in the inning, but that didn’t matter in the end.
Relief pitcher Jace Carroll recorded two strikeouts in the top of the third inning, allowing just one hit to set the stage for another Stansbury onslaught in the bottom half. After a leadoff walk by Nicholes and a single by Shields, Clark ripped a two-run triple off the fence in right field to extend the lead to 8-0. After a walk by Sundloff, Clark scored on a groundout by Miller and Sundloff scored on a flyout by Ashtyn Blake to put the Stallions ahead 10-0.
Carroll pitched a scoreless fourth inning, walking one and striking out two. In the bottom of the fourth, Nicholes and Shields reached base on back-to-back errors with one out, giving Clark one last crack at the cycle. He made no mistake, hitting a two-run line drive to center field that allowed him to ease into second base with a double. Harris capped the scoring with a two-run double to left-center.
In a fitting ending, Clark took to the pitcher’s mound for the Stallions in the top of the fifth inning and struck out the side. Harris, Carroll and Clark combined for 10 strikeouts in the one-hit shutout, walking one and hitting one batter. On the other side, Stansbury batters were hit five times and drew six walks to go with nine hits. The Stallions also benefited from five Viewmont errors.
The Stallions will travel to Bountiful to face Bountiful High on Wednesday, with a home game against Ben Lomond on Thursday and another road game on Friday against Roy. All games are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. for Stansbury’s 19-and-under team, with the 17-and-under squad playing at 3:30 p.m. each day. In all, the 19-and-under team is scheduled to play 16 games as part of a regular season that concludes July 1, with the postseason set for July 7-8 (single elimination), July 10-11 (best-of-three) and July 17-24 (double elimination).