The Grantsville Cowboys scored four runs in the seventh inning to defeat the rival Tooele Buffaloes in the first of three games against each other this region season.
Tooele scored one run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3, but then Grantsville answered right back with an explosive inning that sealed the 7-3 victory.
“They hung in, and we weren’t perfect by any means today, but that shows character with the way they stayed with it,” said GHS coach Loren Anderson. “We just weren’t good mentally at the start, but the competitiveness in them, they’re going to fight.”
In the other dugout, THS coach Catham Beer was a little heartbroken after losing a close game like this one.
“We’re one break away from making a run,” Beer said. “They just need that win. They get a win against a quality opponent, and all of a sudden the self-confidence will go up and we’ll make a run. We’re one break away from scaring the daylights out of some of these guys.”
Grantsville’s Ky Fisher got the seventh inning rally started with a base hit down the left field line. Wyatt Barrus then walked later in the inning to set up first and second base with two outs. A passed ball allowed the two runners to move to third and second.
The Buffaloes then elected to intentionally walk hitter Wyatt Smith and bring up Dillon Hutchins. However, Tooele pitcher Zach Jeffers then walked Hutchins to score Fisher and give Grantsville a 4-3 lead.
Grantsville’s Matt Garrard stepped up to the plate and belted a base hit to center field, which scored Barrus and Smith and extended the lead to 6-3. The Cowboys’ fourth run of the game was never tallied on the scoreboard, but the umpires did rule that it was scored.
In a confusing sequence where Tooele recorded the last out of the inning, Grantsville’s Jonas Johnson picked up a base hit. During the hit, Hutchins scored to give Grantsville a 7-3 lead, but in the process of the play, Johnson rounded first and went for second base. He then went back and slid into first base. A tag was applied Tooele first baseman Justin Pollmann, but Johnson was initially ruled safe.
After a conference among the umpires, Johnson was then ruled out to end in the inning, but the run by Hutchins still counted since the out occurred after the run was scored and was not a force out. The umpires notified the coaches but never notified the scorekeepers or fans in attendance.
That wouldn’t have mattered except Tooele had the bases loaded with one out in its half of the seventh inning in a comeback attempt. Any rally attempt by the Buffs would have needed four runs to tie the game rather than three runs. Barrus struck out Tooele’s Nick Schwartzman and Tristan Prather to end the game, and none of that mattered.
Anderson said the Cowboys hurt themselves too many times in Tuesday’s game.
“We had base runners on, but we ran ourself out of some innings,” he said. “We got better pitches and had better at-bats (later in the game).”
Luckily, Anderson said, the Cowboys capitalized when they needed to.
“[Tooele] chose to walk a guy, which puts more on them, and our guy goes and has a good at-bat,” he said. “Defensively, as times Wyatt (Barrus) was trying to overthrow a little bit. He was trying to do it himself. We keep getting on him to be a pitcher and put balls in play and let the defense play.”
Anderson said he wished he knew how to make sure players are ready to play at all times.
“You can’t really practice being mentally ready to go,” he said. “I wish I knew the secret to that.”
Beer said the difference in the game came down to Grantsville making the plays it needed to make to win.
“That seventh inning was the difference,” he said. “What they did with bases loaded, we didn’t do. We had some unlucky breaks with balls lost in the sun. That hurt, but that’s the game. They made the plays, and we didn’t.”
Beer said he’s hoping teams are overlooking his Buffaloes.
“We’re good with that,” he said. “We’ll come out and play hard, and that’s all we can ask the guys to do. I loved the intensity. They were in it. They were loud. My voice is gone. That’s what baseball is about, and it’s fun, but it sure hurts.”
The two teams turn around and play each other immediately Friday. Beer said he likes the schedule set up this way.
“We saw some things that we’re going to work on in our next couple of practices,” he said. “Maybe we can even exploit some things. I’m sure they’ll be doing the same thing. That’s the thing I like about this schedule: You don’t have time to mope around. You don’t have to wait for three weeks to see them again. We get to see them Friday.”