The Grantsville baseball team won the Class 3A state championship just two months ago, but the Cowboys will have a lot of holes to fill if they want to defend their title.
Fortunately, it seems that the boys in red have plenty of young talent waiting in the wings.
With a lineup made up mostly of underclassmen, Grantsville wrapped up its summer season with an 8-7 win over Highland on Friday at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. The Cowboys finished the summer with a 9-4 record despite being one of only four Class 3A schools – and the smallest public school – in the 20-team league.
“This group of kids competes,” Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins said. “That’s what I appreciate the most.”
Both teams’ starting pitchers struggled in Friday’s contest. Grantsville scored seven runs in the top of the first inning with only two hits, drawing six walks. Jackson Sandberg drove in the first run of the game with a single to shallow center field after Austin Wilcox and Zach Capel led off with back-to-back walks. Blake Thomas drove in another run with a groundout to short, and Logan White’s RBI single made it 3-0. White later came around to score on a wild pitch, while Dalton Williams and Kaden Kelley both walked and eventually scored on errors.
Highland responded with five runs in the bottom of the first as Sandberg also struggled with his control. The first three Rams batters all walked, and a one-out single drove in two runs. Back-to-back bases-loaded walks and a wild pitch brought home three more runs for Highland, which tied the game in the second on a two-run double after Wilcox came in to relieve Sandberg.
Both teams seemed to settle down after that. Grantsville had a chance to regain the lead in the top of the third, but left the bases loaded, and also stranded a runner on third base in the fourth before finally breaking through in the fifth. Thomas drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on White’s sacrifice bunt. Zach Hale then reached base on a dropped fly ball, and Thomas then scored on another Highland error.
With darkness approaching, the home-plate umpire decided to call the game after five innings. That gave the Rams one final opportunity, but Capel was able to keep them off the board and preserve Grantsville’s victory.
With a number of Grantsville’s top players from the state championship team having graduated this spring, and returners Chace Gipson and Justin Richardson out with injuries, there were plenty of opportunities for other players on the Cowboys’ roster to step up and show what they can bring to the table next spring. Perkins was pleased to see the progress that several of those players were able to make.
“I tell the kids the first day of practice that every position’s open,” Perkins said. “Just because you played last year doesn’t mean you’re going to play this year. I do that because I want healthy competition in our kids, because that’s how they’re going to get better. If they’re just given things, they’re not going to get better.”