The Tooele baseball team’s 2021 season has been filled with highs and lows, with inconsistency plaguing the Buffaloes in the early going.
The Buffs entered Thursday’s Region 10 road game against Uintah riding one of those highs, having defeated the Utes 5-2 on Tuesday at Dow James Park. Tooele followed that triumph with a 10-0, five-inning win over Class 6A Hunter on Wednesday, giving the Buffs (4-7, 1-2 Region 10) their second two-game winning streak of the season on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
“We’re kind of in an every-other-week rut right now,” Tooele coach Nolan Stouder said. “The first week of the season … not great. The second week of the season, we looked better. We’re trying to ride a level, even wave — not too high, not too low.”
Tooele’s pitching has improved greatly in recent games, and Wednesday’s performance by Hagen Bowen might have been the Buffs’ best so far this season. In five innings, he allowed just two hits, striking out five and walking none. He overcame three errors by the Buffaloes’ defense to keep the Wolverines (2-7) off the scoreboard, and threw just 60 pitches in the process.
“The past two weeks we’ve gotten a lot better filling up the (strike) zone more consistently with less walks,” Stouder said. “Pitches per inning have gone way down. They were averaging, the first couple weeks, close to 20 (pitches), 20-plus an inning. We’re finally getting them in that zone where I want them to be, 15 and under, just making good pitches and letting them put it in play. Our defense has been starting to turn a corner and make the routine plays. As long as we do that, I like our arms and I like the competitiveness that they show.”
Meanwhile, Tooele’s offense gave its starting pitcher more than enough run support. The Buffaloes took a 1-0 lead against Hunter starter Desmond Reymus in the bottom of the second inning on Joe Tippetts’ RBI single to shallow left that drove in Brock Beer.
Then, the Buffs really got going in the third inning, with Connor Spindler’s single to center driving in Camden Colovich for a 2-0 lead. Spindler was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double, and Jake Hervat was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Beer for the second out of the inning. But back-to-back singles by Tippetts and Mason Donadio extended the inning, and Dillon Palmer reached base on a throwing error by Hunter. Bryson Byrd followed with a two-run single up the middle that ended Reymus’ day on the mound. Zander Adams reached base against reliever Ben Gallegos on another error by the Wolverines that extended the lead to 7-0.
The game ended with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning because of the 10-run rule. Colovich drove in Palmer with Tooele’s eighth run with a two-out RBI triple to the right-field corner. After a walk by Spindler, Hervat hit an opposite-field blooper down the left-field line to drive in the final two runs of the game.
“I thought (Wednesday) wasn’t our finest day,” Stouder said. “We won 10-0 in five, but it didn’t seem like (Tuesday’s) sharpness.”
Hervat, Colovich, Byrd, Spindler, Tippetts and Palmer each had two hits, with Hervat and Byrd recording two RBIs each. Byrd and Ethan Rollie each had two stolen bases.
Following Thursday’s game against Uintah in Vernal, which was not complete at press time, the Buffaloes will face county rival Stansbury in a home-and-home series — Tuesday at Stansbury High and Thursday at Dow James Park.