The Desert Hills Thunder looked like they were in control of their fate, but one crazy twist spoiled the party on the way to the 3A title game.
Like a bolt of lightning, the Grantsville Cowboys delivered the clear shocker of the tournament.
A steal of home and suicide squeeze bunt highlighted a three-run sixth inning as Grantsville stunned Desert Hills in a 3-2 victory that seemed improbable, and ended up borderline illogical.
Not that Cowboys head coach Loren Anderson minded in the least, as his team broke through against the offerings of DH sophomore left-hander Brayson Hurdsman.
“He was eating us up and we were having a hard time having good at-bats,” Anderson said. “The leadoff home run sparked us. … That wasn’t the prettiest executed squeeze you’d see, but it worked.”
The fateful sixth inning began with a leadoff homer by catcher Ky Fisher. Dallin Williams followed and reached on a throwing error, and the nuttiness was just beginning.
Nick Arbon followed with a double to right. Thunder right-fielder Baden Powell got to the ball quickly, fired a perfect relay throw to second, and the throw to the plate was in time to cut down a sliding Williams for the first out.
But with Arbon moving around to third on the play, Wyatt Barrus was walked intentionally. Winning pitcher Dillon Hutchins then dropped down a squeeze bunt and reached safely as Arbon crossed the plate with the tying run after hesitating.
“I wasn’t thinking they were going to risk it, but it worked out in our favor,” Barrus said. “It’s not too hard to stay focused in a game like this. We knew if we had patience, it would happen.”
That led to a double steal with Barrus crossing the plate with the go-ahead run after Hutchins was picked off at first base. When Wyatt Smith was hit by a pitch, it ended Hurdsman’s day after seven strikeouts and three walks in 52⁄3
Powell came on in relief and struck out Matt Garrard for the third out, but the drama was just beginning.
With Garrard on in relief of Hutchins, the Thunder loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but Dylan File was retired on a fly ball to the warning track in left field for the final out.
“Grantsville executed when they had to, and we couldn’t get the big play when we needed it,” Desert Hills coach Jerry Beck said. “It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes.”
With an elimination game against rival Cedar coming today at 9 a.m., and the Thunder now needing three wins for the title, Beck is looking forward to see what the fates may hold.
“These kids are resilient and I’m excited to see how they’ll respond,” he said. “We have enough pitching that we can win three games.”
The Cowboys threatened to break through in a hurry against Hurdsman in the first. Fisher led off with a single to center, stole second and continued to third when the throw from the catcher sailed to center field.
Hurdsman turned the Cowboys away by inducing two groundouts and retiring Barrus on a flyout to center.
In the top of the second, the Thunder made them pay for the missed opportunity, as Wyatt Bendall belted a one-out solo homer over the fence in left for a quick 1-0 lead. They would extend the lead with another run in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Clay Gardner.