The Grantsville baseball team picked one heck of a time to put together its best game of the summer.
On Monday night in Holladay, the Cowboys combined timely hitting with excellent pitching to dismantle Class 6A powerhouse Olympus 16-6 in six innings in the semifinals of Salt Lake County’s Varsity Prep league tournament. That lifts the Cowboys into Tuesday’s championship game, to be played at a location that had not been determined at press time.
“Against a really good 6A program with some really good arms on the mound, my kids didn’t buckle to the velocity,” said Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins, whose team reached the tournament championship game for the second consecutive year. “We just beared down, put the ball in play and they made some mistakes. We capitalized on them.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Cowboys seized a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on back-to-back RBI singles by Broc Miller and Baylor Hall. Olympus cut the lead to 2-1, but Grantsville took control of things from there.
Josh Staley was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the second and Jackson George and Kaden Kelley hit back-to-back one-out singles to drive him in with Grantsville’s third run. Jackson George scored on a groundout by Zack Hale, and Caleb Sullivan’s infield single brought in Keaton George, who was running for Kelley. Sam Daybell’s double to right-center plated Sullivan, and Easton Casper singled to bring in Daybell for a 7-1 lead.
“I was standing over at third base and I was like, ‘all right, this is the team we can be right here,’” Perkins said. “We’re stringing hits together from the top of the lineup right to the bottom of the lineup. We’re getting bunts down, we’re moving runners, we’re running bases hard — that’s who we can be right there.”
Olympus scored another run in the bottom of the third to cut the Cowboys’ advantage to 7-2, but Grantsville’s bats put things out of reach in the top of the fourth with another five-run outburst. The first five batters of the frame all reached base, starting with Hall’s single to right. Staley walked, and Kaden Lund’s single loaded the bases. Jackson George drove in Hall with an infield single, and Kelley’s bases-loaded walk brought in Staley. Sullivan’s one-out single up the middle scored Lund, and Jackson and Keaton George each scored on Casper’s two-out single to right.
Olympus scored three runs off Grantsville reliever Sadiq Gotiear in the bottom of the fifth inning before Staley came in to get the Cowboys out of the inning after the Titans put runners on second and third with one out. Grantsville responded with four more runs in the top of the sixth to take a commanding 16-5 lead. Jackson George and Kelley were hit by pitches and Hale walked to load the bases with no outs. Sullivan was then hit by a pitch to drive in Jackson George. After a pitching change, Daybell walked and scored Keaton George, and Hale came home on a wild pitch before an RBI single by Casper brought Sullivan home with the Cowboys’ final run.
Olympus scored one more time against Staley in the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the 10-run mercy rule.
Grantsville finished with 16 hits in the game, and a disciplined approach at the plate allowed the Cowboys to draw eight walks in addition to being hit by four pitches. That was backed by a rock-solid pitching performance, as starting pitcher Jace Sandberg allowed two runs on five hits with two strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter in 3 1/3 innings. Gotiear allowed three runs on three hits with two walks in one inning, and Staley allowed a run on one hit and two walks with two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
“It means a lot,” Perkins said of reaching the championship game. “We lost to Herriman in a really close game last year — let’s go win this game (Tuesday). It means a lot to us. It proves to our kids that we can compete with anybody.”
Grantsville’s takedown of the Titans came on the heels of a successful weekend of pool play in which the Cowboys posted a 2-1 record, earning the No. 2 seed in the bracket. The Cowboys beat Brighton 5-4 on Friday afternoon before losing 7-3 to Murray that evening. On Saturday, Grantsville beat Region 13 foe Summit Academy 5-4.
Against Brighton, the Cowboys took a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI infield single by Hale and an RBI single by Sullivan. Kelley scored the clinching run in the fifth inning after leading off the frame with a double, advancing to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Hall and scoring on a groundout by Daybell. Daybell picked up the win on the mound, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Jackson George earned the save on the mound, allowing one run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Grantsville took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Friday night’s game against Murray, drawing four walks and picking up two hits against Spartans starter Kindrick Tipping. Daybell drew a bases-loaded walk and Lund and Jackson George each hit RBI singles, but that was all the scoring the Cowboys could muster. Murray hit back-to-back solo home runs in the third inning against Staley to cut the lead to 3-2, and the Spartans scored three runs off Miller in the fifth to take the lead. They added two insurance runs off Gotiear in the sixth.
Grantsville managed to work its way out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in Saturday’s one-run win over Summit Academy, earning the Cowboys a crucial second victory in pool play that enabled them to advance to Monday’s semifinal game.