I’ve been reading about the Grantsville baseball team’s success all season, but Wednesday marked the first time I’d actually been able to see the Cowboys in person.
Now I see what all the fuss is about.
As of this writing, Grantsville hasn’t lost in its past 11 games – a stretch dating back nearly a month. Even though Judge Memorial has given them all they can handle the past two games, the Cowboys have still found ways to win.
The reason is for the Cowboys’ success is twofold – senior leadership and pitching depth.
The big-city media had Grantsville ranked second in Class 3A behind Grand coming into the season. The Red Devils’ top ranking appeared justified, as they returned several key contributors from last year’s Class 2A runners-up. Grantsville was a middle-of-the-pack team last year in 3A, and coach Aaron Perkins was entering his first year in charge of the Cowboys after a 12-year run by former coach Loren Anderson. It was understandable why Grantsville might have been overlooked.
Now that the season is past its halfway point, Grantsville has shown that it deserves to be atop those rankings, and should be considered the favorite for the state title. Grand is good, don’t get me wrong, but the Devils’ 2A roots are showing with their lack of pitching depth. That doesn’t bode well come state tournament time.
Meanwhile, Grantsville has used six different pitchers in the first two games of their region series against Judge. Most 3A teams don’t even have six players capable of pitching at all, let alone six guys a coach would be willing to put out there on the mound in a pressure situation.
And speaking of pressure, the Cowboys have a ton of players who have been here before. Seniors Brady Arbon, Coy Johnson, Brody Barney, Jake Paxton, Keagan Landon and Matt Collier all have extensive varsity experience. In the case of Arbon and Johnson, they also have big-game experience from two other sports. They were there as the Cowboys were a two-point conversion away from toppling eventual state champion Juan Diego in the state football playoffs this past fall, and they played key roles for the basketball team as the Cowboys brought home a third-place finish on the hardwood.
And, wouldn’t you know it, those two are stars on the baseball diamond as well. Arbon already has a perfect game to his credit, and threw eight dominant innings on Tuesday. Johnson, who Perkins said would be a starter on virtually any other team in Class 3A, is instead one of the state’s top relief pitchers in addition to being Grantsville’s regular starting shortstop.
With so many games in such a short period of time, depth is crucial when the state tournament rolls around. If all goes according to plan, that should work out pretty well for Grantsville in its pursuit of a second state championship in the past five seasons.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He has a feeling mid-May could be a really good time to be a Grantsville sports fan. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.