Summer baseball isn’t so much about wins and losses as it is about the chance to improve in a game situation.
Monday night’s 4-4 tie between Grantsville and Hunter was the perfect example. There were no winners or losers, but both coaches could walk away pleased with what they saw from their squads as they took the first steps toward next spring’s high school season, still some nine months away.
“It was a good effort,” Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins said. “I thought our pitching was really good — we only gave up four runs to a pretty good-hitting team. Defensively, we played well, but offensively, we struggled a little bit. Summer ball, for me, is about development, so I’m not going to hinge on wins and losses.”
Grantsville used Monday’s contest to get some game action for players who didn’t see a lot of varsity playing time this past spring, with some impressive results. Senior-to-be Gauge Pyne, who had only four varsity at-bats in eight games during the 2019 season, slid into the No. 5 spot in the Cowboys’ lineup and paid immediate dividends.
Grantsville led 1-0 with one out in the top of the first inning after an RBI single by Josh Staley drove in Taylor Wood. Jackson Sandberg then reached on a Hunter error and later stole second base to give the Cowboys two runners in scoring position, and Pyne made the Wolverines pay with a two-run single to shallow left as Grantsville built a 3-0 lead. Later in the game, Pyne came up with a two-out RBI single to drive in Staley to put Grantsville up 4-3 in the fifth.
“I thought Gauge Pyne played really well,” Perkins said. “He stepped up and got two hits tonight and played well at third base. They all played well and it was a good chance to get some playing time.”
Wood had a solid outing on the pitcher’s mound, allowing four runs on four hits with seven strikeouts, one walk and three hit batters in five innings. Sandberg pitched the final two innings and didn’t allow a hit, striking out five.
Sandberg’s outing was particularly impressive, considering he took a foul ball off his throwing hand while catching for Wood in the third inning. It led the senior-to-be to joke with his coach afterward that the near-injury might have actually made him better, though Perkins was just glad to see Sandberg step up the way he did.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him throw in two years,” Perkins said.
Perkins would have liked to see his team hit the ball a bit better, as Grantsville managed just five hits in the game. Pyne was the only Cowboy with more than one hit, though Staley was hit by two pitches and reached base three times overall and Sandberg and Blake Thomas each got on base twice. However, as Hunter used three different pitchers, Perkins said his team struggled to get its timing down at the plate, though he lamented a couple missed opportunities where the Cowboys were unable to get a bunt down with runners in scoring position.
On the bright side, Grantsville committed just two errors — neither of which hurt the Cowboys, as Sandberg threw out a would-be base-stealer after one error in the second inning and struck out the next three batters after another error in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cowboys will continue summer-league play Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Magna against Cyprus.