The Red Devils split a pair of baseball games in New Mexico during Spring Break, beating Kirtland, N.M., 8-7 on Monday, March 25 before falling 13-5 to Piedra Vista, N.M., on Tuesday, March 26.
Versus Kirtland, Grand County, now 8-3,1-0 in Region 15 play, collected 10 hits, including doubles from Aaron Lewis, Brayden Ward, Tanner White and Preston Walston. Walston earned credit for the win on the mound, a victory he said he almost let slip through his fingers after he moved to catcher with Kyler Nelson pitching.
“We got out of a bases-loaded, two outs, full-count jam to end the game,” he said. “Kyler Nelson was pitching, threw a strike and I dropped it, but I picked it up and touched the plate for the force to end the game.”
The next day, the Red Devils jumped out to a 5-1 lead before Piedra Vista exploded for nine runs in the fourth inning to take the lead. They added three more runs in the later innings to defeat Grand County 13-5. Koi Cook was the losing pitcher.
“We got on top quick and we kind of coasted,” Walston said. “We fell apart defensively in that nine-run inning and couldn’t get anything going after that.”
Walston said the Piedra Vista squad is one of the best teams the Red Devils have faced this year.
“They were solid fundamentally and really good at hitting with two strikes,” he said. “They’re a really good team, probably one of the best we’ve seen so far.”
Through the first 11 games of the season, the Red Devils have earned a No. 5-ranking in 2A from the Deseret News and have names scattered across the state leaderboard in major statistical categories.
Walston leads 2A in home runs with three, is second in pitching victories with four, is tied for second in triples with two and tied for fifth in doubles with four. Cook is tied for second in home runs with two and triples with two.
Walston said the Red Devils are united and drama free, which are key factors to the team’s success.
“I’d rather be on our baseball team than any other team I’ve seen or any team in 2A,” he said.
The Red Devils also played a Region 15 game at Emery, the No. 2-ranked team in 2A, on Tuesday, April 2. The Spartans entered with an identical 8-3 record overall with one more region win under their belts than the Red Devils. Grand County plays host to South Sevier, who as of April 1 was 3-7, 1-1 in region play, in a Region 15 double header on Friday, April 5 at 2 and 4 p.m.
“We are pleased with the season so far,” Red Devil assistant coach Ron Dolphin said, “There is still a lot of room to improve. The work ethic of the team right now is diligent and effective.”