The Tooele baseball team began the American Legion season earlier this month with a four-game winning streak, showing the confidence and swagger befitting a team that was among the favorites to win a region championship this spring.
However, the Buffaloes’ momentum has faded, and frustration has bubbled to the surface in the midst of a midseason swoon. Tooele lost for the fourth time in five games Thursday night at Bountiful High School, falling to the Bountiful Tribe 11-1 in six innings.
“We’ve just hit a slump, and we’ll see if the boys can figure it out,” Tooele coach Nolan Stouder said. “There’s not much rah-rahing I can do to turn it around.”
It was a rough evening all around for the Buffs, who allowed seven runs in the first inning — five of which were unearned — and never recovered. Tooele nearly escaped the opening frame trailing just 2-0 after an RBI single and a passed ball allowed the Tribe to score, but then the trouble began. Starting pitcher Jake Hervat hit a Bountiful batter with two outs and a runner on base, and a Tooele error kept the inning alive and led to a run. Two more walks, a passed ball, an error and an RBI double to right drove in a pair of additional runs.
“Hopefully, they get their minds right,” Stouder said, noting the frustration some of his players felt after the game. “That’s my biggest worry — my catcher (Connor Spindler) is down on himself, my great lefty pitcher (Hervat) is down on himself, our shortstop (Camden Colovich) is down on himself defensively, but you’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to be humble, but you’ve got to believe you’re the best player on the field.”
Meanwhile, the Buffs’ offense was stuck in neutral. Spindler walked to lead off the second inning, but courtesy runner Zander Adams was stranded on first base when the next three batters were retired in order. In the third inning, Joseph Tippetts hit a leadoff single, but was retired on Austin Avery’s double play-inducing groundball to the shortstop. Bryson Byrd walked with two outs but Dillon Palmer flied out to right to end the frame.
It wasn’t until Tooele trailed 8-0 in the top of the fourth inning that the Buffs finally got on the board. Brett Porthan led off with a single and came in to score on Mason Donadio’s two-out single up the middle. However, the Buffaloes didn’t build on that momentum, as the Tribe tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend the lead to 10-1. Tooele stranded two more runners in scoring position, as Avery hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning and Hervat reached on an error and advanced to second on Donadio’s single in the sixth.
Bountiful ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth, as a bobbled ball in the outfield allowed a Tribe runner to score from second.
Hervat took the loss, allowing 10 runs — five earned — on eight hits, four walks and a hit batter in four innings. Relief pitcher Brock Beer gave up one unearned run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings. Donadio finished 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI for the Buffs, while Avery’s fifth-inning double was the only one of Tooele’s five hits to go for extra bases.
Tooele will play host to county rival Stansbury on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Dow James Memorial Park.