The Grand County High School baseball team suffered back-to-back extra inning losses at the state 2A baseball tournament at Kearns last weekend.
After winning both of their opening round games at Moab the weekend before, the Red Devils were poised to contend for the state title. But Grand faced a tough Kanab team on Thursday, May 9.
The Red Devils led the Cowboys at three different points in the tight contest, but Kanab managed to tie the score up again each time. The two teams were deadlocked 5-5 in the fifth inning, and neither team managed to score in the sixth and seventh innings.
Finally, with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Kanab’s Michael Stewart laid down a suicide squeeze bunt along the first base line, bringing in teammate Merrill Terry from third base. Grand pitcher Koi Cook fielded the ball and fired it home, trying to nail the runner, but Terry scored and Kanab won 5-4.
Cook pitched the entire game for Grand. The Red Devils had five hits in the game and committed no errors in the field.
After beating Grand on Thursday, Kanab went on to lose 19-1 to Emery on Friday and to Parowan by the score of 16-4 on Saturday.
“Kanab played their best game of the season against us,” said GCHS assistant coach Ron Dolphin. “The best team didn’t win that game, but the team that played the best did.”
The loss dropped Grand into the one-loss bracket, where the Red Devils took on the Beaver Beavers at Kearns High School on Friday, May 10. Beaver scored three runs in the first inning and three more in the third to open up a 6-0 lead, but Grand scored four runs in the bottom of the third to narrow the gap.
Grand finally tied the game up in the bottom of the seventh, 6-6, but Beaver managed to score one run in the top of the eighth and hold on for the 7-6 victory.
“There were a couple of times where we had runners on second and third with no out, and came away empty,” Dolphin said. “We just didn’t get the timely hits we needed to win the game.”
Preston Walston pitched the entire game for the Red Devils.
“Even though we happened to come out on the short side both times, it was great baseball,” said Dolphin, who called the two losses “gut-wrenching.”
“Multiple coaches told me at the tournament that top-to-bottom, we had the best nine hitters in our lineup of any 2A team in the state,” Dolphin said. “It was a pleasure to coach these kids. They were true competitors.”
The Emery Spartans, which had shared the Region 15 title with Grand, ended up winning the tournament with a 15-9 victory over Parowan in the state championship game on Saturday.