The Grand County High School baseball team got off to a disappointing start to its season at home over the weekend, losing 10-9 to Gunnison and 1-0 to Manti on Thursday, March 6, and losing 3-1 to Millard on Friday, March 7.
The Red Devils, who entered the season ranked No. 4 by Deseret News behind Emery, Parowan and Beaver, failed to shake off some of the off-season rust, committing seven errors against Gunnison, one versus Manti and four against Millard.
“Our defense really isn’t that bad,” Red Devil assistant coach Ron Dolphin said. “Our offense just wasn’t swinging the bats very aggressively.”
Against Gunnison, the Red Devils jumped out to a 2-1 lead after an inning before giving up four runs in the second to fall behind 5-2. Grand cut the deficit to 5-3 with a fourth-inning run before the Bulldogs responded with two runs in the fifth to go up 7-3. Grand scored a run in the fifth and another in the sixth before Gunnison put the game out of reach with four runs in the seventh inning. The Red Devils raillied in the bottom of the inning with four runs of their own, but they fell a run short at 10-9. Seniors Adam Jenkinson, Cameron Taylor and Kiel Schraft and junior Ronnie Dolphin hit doubles for the Red Devils; junior Kyler Nelson was the losing pitcher.
Immediately following the contest versus Gunnison, the Red Devils took the field to play Manti and each team went scoreless through seven innings. Manti pushed the winning run across in the top of the eighth inning. Manti earned four hits and Grand earned three in the pitchers duel, including a double from Taylor; senior Koi Cook was the losing pitcher.
Ron Dolphin said the Red Devils had opportunities to win each game, but weren’t able to capitalize.
“We got kids on base,” he said. “We just never got the timely hits we needed.”
Friday’s game, which started almost an hour late because of rain delays, wasn’t much better for the Red Devil bats as they only collected four hits, picking up their lone run in the fifth inning. Millard scored two runs in the first inning and one in the third for the 3-1 win. Junior Tanner White was the losing pitcher.
“We’ve just got to be more aggressive swinging the bat instead of watching a couple strikes go down the tube,” Ron Dolphin said. “We were waiting until we already had a strike or two against us to start swinging. Coach (Jared) Meador has a saying that ‘you’ve got three lottery tickets every time you step to the plate and you’ve got to cash them in.’ We didn’t do that this weekend.”
Taylor, the Red Devils’ starting third baseman, missed Friday’s game to go on a football recruiting trip to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and sophomore Dalton McElhaney was injured early in the game trying to steal second base, giving significant varsity playing time to Christian Wilson and Cayden Noyes, a pair of freshmen who’ve yet to even play in a junior varsity or c-team game.
“They did really good for it being their first rodeo,” Ron Dolphin said. “When these kinds of thing happen you’ve just got to play the hand you’re dealt. They didn’t play scared like you might expect them to; they weren’t like deer in the headlights.”
The Red Devils are confident they’ll be in the mix at the end of the season, despite the 0-3 start, Ron Dolphin said.
“We’re not worried at all about starting 0-3,” he said. “We would have liked to win, especially opening on our home field, but we’ll be alright. We like what we’ve got and we like our chances.”
The Red Devils are scheduled to play a pair of games against American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork on Friday March 14 at 3 p.m., and Saturday, March 15 at 11 a.m., before traveling to Castle Dale to play Emery on Tuesday, March 18. They’re next scheduled to play at home in a double header against Altamont on Friday, March 21 beginning at 2 p.m.
Lack of plate aggression proves costly for Red Devils
“We’ve just got to be more aggressive swinging the bat instead of watching a couple strikes go down the tube. We were waiting until we already had a strike or two against us to start swinging; Coach (Jared) Meador has a saying that ‘you’ve got three lottery tickets every time you step to the plate and you’ve got to cash them in.’ We didn’t do that this weekend.”