If there was a Bayfield High School baseball player who could have appreciated the stickwork Durango’s Sten Joyner displayed Tuesday afternoon, it was probably Hub Brandon, into whose cleats the Demon seemed to step with Wolverine Field still abuzz over last Saturday’s 9-2, 16-5 assault on Alamosa.
Having already ripped back-to-back doubles in Game 2 against the Mean Moose, Brandon stepped in for a third time against Caden Alonzo and bashed a two-run homer to left only to be suddenly ejected after crossing home plate for a celebratory move apparently testing the murky “unsportsmanlike conduct” waters.
If you’ve ever met the senior shortstop, you know that term’s really not in his vocabulary.
“I was just trying to hit my pitch,” he said. “Stay off the junk, leave the curveballs and get a pitch where I wanted it and hit it hard. It was good to get ahead, be in a spot where we could do a little damage, seal the deal.”
Suspended along with junior designated hitter/third baseman Ethan Morris, who was tossed in Game 2 against Alamosa for throwing a witty verbal jab as Brandon rounded the bags, Brandon could only watch as Durango’s Joyner doubled his first time up, doubled his second time, singled his third time and then homered to left his fourth.
Joyner’s assessment was about as Hubbish as it could be.
“You know, my timing just felt good. I was seeing the fastball low, and it just felt like I could get my bat around on anything,” he said. “Everything felt pretty good, and my swing was just in rhythm.”
Managing just three hits in a 9-4 loss to the Class 4A Demons, it’s safe to say Bayfield’s bats weren’t in rhythm, save for a one-out, two-run blast in the bottom of the first by, appropriately, Jake Brandon.
Cut from the same speak softly, carry a big stick fabric as his twin, the senior second baseman – moved initially to shortstop to fill in for his brother – conceded that losing two big bats left the Wolverines vulnerable but wasn’t the end-all.
“Obviously, you’d want to win; it helps the RPI out,” he said. “We wanted to come out harder than we did at the plate, but, you know, it goes both ways. We’ll try to get them again next time we play in Durango.”
But, in the meantime and with both Morris and Hub Brandon back in action, the Wolverines will look to polish off a perfect pass through the 3A Intermountain League on Saturday at Monte Vista. The doubleheader is set to commence at 11 a.m.
“We came out and put up runs right off the bat. We hit the ball really well; that’s why we won those games,” senior third baseman/pitcher Hayden Farmer said, reflecting on the wins over Alamosa, last season’s circuit champions. “We’ve got to have our sticks like we always do; if we have our sticks, we can win any game.”
Bayfield had plenty of power against the Mean Moose. Farmer also homered in Game 2, as did Max McGhehey.
The Wolverines (12-8, 8-0 IML) should be good to go on the mound against the Pirates (7-13, 2-6), whose program, beaten 14 consecutive times head-to-head and outscored 161-10 during that drought, hasn’t defeated Bayfield since 2011.
Farmer earned a complete-game win in Game 1 versus the Moose, striking out 12 in five innings of one-run ball. Senior Andrew Morgan, who’d admittedly feared he may not see any Senior Day action, picked up the Game 2 win after dealing 3 2/3 innings in relief of McGhehey, allowing just one hit while fanning four and during one stretch retiring 10 of 11 batters.
“Andrew needed a good game today,” said junior Dillon Vroman, who ended Game 2 with a bases-clearing triple. “He’s doing a lot of pitching, so I’m glad it paid off; he was able to come (through) in a squeeze for us.”
“Yeah, I was just sad I didn’t start,” confessed Morgan. “But I got up in there and did my job.”
And even in the loss to Durango, senior first baseman Rhett Hoover turned in a credible spot-start, holding the visitors to just three runs and three hits in three innings with two strikeouts and zero walks.
Offensively, Hoover and Jake Brandon each went 4-for-9 in the aforementioned three outings, while Farmer was 3-for-4 before an 0-for-4 day against DHS. Brandon totaled a team-high five runs while Farmer scored four to go along with five RBIs (Brandon, Hoover and Vroman, himself 4-for-11, each logged four runs).
Bayfield also drew 19 walks with one hit-by-pitch, as well, while striking out 15 times.
“We want to win league; that’s what we’re here for. We want to try to take it in a sweep,” said Jake Brandon. “We’ll see what they throw, but I feel we’re ready to play them. Feel like we’re in a good spot.”
Interviewed separately, Hub Brandon was like-minded almost to the word.
“It was good to get two from Alamosa, and with Monte Vista, we should be in a real good spot.”