The return of baseball has been a long time coming for the Grantsville Cowboys, who stepped back on the field last week for the first time in nearly three months.
In Friday’s game against Cyprus, the effects of the lengthy layoff were evident. Grantsville managed just two hits, struck out 10 times and stranded six runners on base, and also committed five errors in an 8-0 loss to the Pirates in their second game of summer league play.
“Offensively, we were just behind a little bit,” Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins said. “It was the first time a lot of these older kids have seen live pitching, and it showed. We were late — offensively, we weren’t very good. We’ll learn from it, hopefully.”
The Cowboys’ lineup got a bit of a boost, with several just-graduated seniors joining the team for Friday games this summer. Chace Gipson started in center field and batted leadoff, with No. 3 hitter Parker Thomas starting the game on the mound and cleanup hitter Jackson Sandberg at first base. A.J. Herrera batted ninth and started at shortstop. All were members of Grantsville’s 2018 Class 3A state championship team as sophomores, and Perkins hopes the underclassmen can learn from them over the next month of games.
“I’m happy for them that they get to play some baseball this summer,” Perkins said. “You could tell they were all rusty, but it is what it is. They’ll help these young kids along and kind of mentor them a little bit.”
Grantsville learned just how difficult varsity baseball can be against the Class 6A Pirates. Aiden McMullin drew a leadoff walk against Thomas in the top of the first inning and scored on Parker Meldrum’s single to shallow right, putting Cyprus up 1-0. Andrew White retired Gipson, Josh Staley and Thomas in order in the bottom of the inning, and a pair of Grantsville errors in the top of the second led to another Cyprus run.
Kaden Kelley got the first of his two hits with a two-out single down the right-field line in the bottom of the second inning, but he was left on base when Andrew White got Logan White to strike out swinging on a full count. Thomas escaped the top of the third without allowing a run, thanks in large part to a diving catch by Staley in right field that robbed Rush Monsen of a base hit and a potential RBI.
Grantsville had its best chance to score in the bottom of the third, as Herrera, Tyson Hainke and Gipson all drew walks. However, Herrera was picked off at first base for the Cowboys’ second out of the inning, and with Hainke and Gipson still on the basepaths, Staley grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
Both teams made changes on the pitcher’s mound at the start of the fourth inning, with Sandberg keeping Cyprus off the board in the top half of the frame and Meldrum retiring Thomas, Sandberg and Zach Hale in order in the bottom half. Cyprus added another run in the top of the fifth when Sandberg hit a batter, who later scored on the Cowboys’ fifth error of the contest. The Pirates made it 4-0 in the sixth inning with back-to-back singles by Tyken Wren and Meldrum, followed by a sacrifice fly to right by Payton Butcher.
“I thought Parker (Thomas) and Jackson (Sandberg) threw well,” Perkins said. “It was a 3-0 game going into the sixth, and really it should have been 1-0 or 0-0 going into the sixth. That’s baseball.”
Cyprus tacked on four more runs in the top of the seventh inning with Herrera on the mound. Monsen drew a bases-loaded walk, Wren drove in another run with a groundout and Meldrum hit a two-run double to right-center.
Meanwhile, Grantsville’s offense couldn’t get much going. Meldrum walked Easton Casper with two outs in the fifth inning, but struck out Herrera to end the threat. Skyler Stapleton walked Gipson with one out in the sixth, only to strike out Staley and Thomas. Wren gave up a two-out double to Kelley in the seventh, but Logan White grounded out to end the game.
“Every one of those arms (Cyprus) threw — they were pretty good arms,” Perkins said. “It shows our young kids, ‘if you want to play at the varsity level, these are the kind of arms you’ve got to hit. You’ve got to start building your swing to prepare for that.’”
Grantsville traveled to Bluffdale on Monday for a game against Region 13 foe Summit Academy. The Cowboys will face Brighton at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in Cottonwood Heights, with another road game at 6:15 p.m. Friday against Herriman. Grantsville’s next home game is June 22 at 6:15 p.m. against Olympus.