The Grantsville baseball team couldn’t get much going offensively against South Sevier ace Easton Hunt in Saturday’s Class 3A second-round playoff game, but the Cowboys’ confidence never wavered.
That’s because Grantsville had its own ace, Brady Arbon, on the mound. That meant everyone — even Arbon — could relax, since the Cowboys knew their laid-back leader didn’t need much in the way of run support. And when they needed it, junior Isaac Riding and sophomore Parker Thomas delivered, helping Grantsville hold off South Sevier for a 2-1 win to remain in the undefeated side of the bracket as the state tournament enters its second week.
“When we go out there every inning to throw it around, he starts singing the song that’s playing (on the public-address system),” Riding said of Arbon. “We’re like, ‘Brady, are you OK, man?’”
Grantsville (22-3) only had two hits in the game, which wasn’t altogether unexpected against Hunt, who came in with an earned-run average of 0.89. Hunt only allowed two baserunners through the first three innings, both of whom were hit by pitches, while the Rams scraped together a run in the first inning off a one-out double by Treven Heath and a two-out RBI single by Brodee Tebbs.
But when the pressure was on, Grantsville came through. Brody Barney was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, and Arbon followed with an infield single two batters later. Jake Paxton was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, and Riding hit a deep fly ball to left that allowed Barney to tag up and score from third with the game-tying run.
“I can’t say enough about our kids,” Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins said. “We haven’t been behind a lot this year, and we never lost our focus the entire game. I knew we were going to come back and win that game, just because of our attitude and our effort and how Brady was controlling the mound.”
Arbon needed just six pitches to get through the top of the fifth inning, setting the stage for the Cowboys to take the lead. Zach Capel drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Coy Johnson’s sacrifice bunt. Barney walked to bring Thomas to the plate, and the sophomore made no mistake, ripping an RBI single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to drive in Capel with what proved to be the game-winning run.
That was thanks to Arbon, whose brutal efficiency kept South Sevier off the board. After Heath’s leadoff single in the top of the sixth, he got Hunt to fly out to left and Tebbs hit a grounder back to Arbon for an inning-ending double play. In the seventh, he sandwiched a pair of strikeouts against Hayden Payne and Chayston Blake around a groundout by Carter Anderson to bring the game to a close.
“I was just trying to hit my spots and trust my defense,” Arbon said. “I know if I just throw it at them and they put it in play, they’ve got my back.”
Grantsville’s win means the Cowboys will face Carbon, the Region 14 champion, at 11 a.m. Thursday at Kearns High School in a quarterfinal game. The winner will advance to Friday’s semifinals at 4:30 p.m. against either Richfield or Manti, while the loser will play Friday at 11 a.m. against Summit Academy, ALA, Union or Emery in an elimination game.
“Carbon’s got another kid like (Hunt),” Perkins said. “It doesn’t matter when we play them — we’ve got to beat them all.”