The Grand County High School baseball team had its chances to put Emery away and bring a title home to Moab, but the Spartans seemed to have more left in the tank at the end, capitalizing on more of their opportunities and sending the Red Devils home with a second-place trophy.The Red Devils, who advanced to the title game by going undefeated through the winners, lost the first game to the Spartans 12-3, and the winner-take-all final game 16-9.
Red Devil assistant baseball coach Ron Dolphin said the long wait between games may have killed Grand’s momentum.
“It was really taxing on our kids to sit there to play a game,” he said. “We had a lot of momentum and were really feeling good about ourselves last weekend, but Tuesday just felt different.”
The first game was scoreless through three innings before the Spartans, who beat Beaver 13-6 earlier in the day to reach the title game, scored a trio of runs in the fourth inning. The Red Devils answered back in the fifth inning to tie the score at 3-3, but as quickly as they evened things up, the Spartans reclaimed the lead with a sixth-inning run to go up 4-3.
After Grand failed to plate a run in the sixth inning, the Spartans put an exclamation point on forcing the finale, by scoring eight times in the seventh inning for a 12-3 final score.
The Red Devils looked to reclaim the upper hand in the Region 15 co-Champions’ tug-of-war over the state championship as they quickly took a 3-0 in the first inning of the finale, but after the Spartans couldn’t score in the first inning, they put three runs on the board in the second to tie the game at 3-3.
The Red Devils again pulled the figurative rope to their side, scoring two runs in the third inning to reclaim the lead, but the Spartans again counter-punched the Red Devils, this time with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to go up 7-5.
Grand wasn’t ready to go down just yet, scoring three runs in the next half-inning to reclaim the advantage at 8-7, but defensive and pitching mishaps allowed Emery four runs and an 11-8 lead.
Each team scored once in the fifth inning of the slug fest before Grand came unraveled in the sixth inning and Emery took advantage with four more runs, giving them a 16-9 lead with only one more inning to go and all-but-assuring them of their second-consecutive state title.
Sophomore Brayden Ward was the first to the plate in Grand’s last gasp, and he popped out. Senior Adam Jenkinson followed with a single, but senior Kiel Schraft struck out and senior Cameron Taylor flew out to left for the final outs of the 2014 season.
“Emery was really hot hitting the baseball,” Dolphin said. “They didn’t hit all that well in the tournament prior to Tuesday, then against us, they had players that went hitless in both of our games earlier in the year hitting doubles and home runs all over the place.”
For the season, Taylor led the Red Devils in batting average at .523 and home runs with four. Junior Tanner White led the state across all classifications in doubles with 15. Taylor was second with 14. Senior Koi Cook went 5-2 on the mound with 1.56 earned run average (ERA), while junior Kyler Nelson went 7-3 with a 1.86 ERA.
During the playoffs, senior Adam Jenkinson batted a torrid .619 and sophomore Dalton McElhaney collected 9 RBIs. Sophomore Brayden Ward was strong defensively at short stop, ending back-to-back playoff games with double plays. Senior Kiel Schraft and junior Ronnie Dolphin also contributed well while alternating between catcher and left field.
“It was an awesome experience for me to coach with these kids and be a part of their lives” Ron Dolphin said. “There’s no other group of players I’d rather be around.”
Red Devil baseball coach Jared Meador and his staff were unanimously selected by coaching peers to coach one of the teams in the 2A All-Star game, which took place on Saturday, May 17 in Castle Dale. Taylor, Cook and White played on the South team, coached by the Red Devil staff. The North team, coached by the Emery Staff, won the game 13-7.
Red Devils run out of gas as Emery claims second consecutive title
“It was really taxing on our kids to sit there to play a game. We had a lot of momentum and were really feeling good about ourselves last weekend, but Tuesday just felt different.”