Sun-soaked Farmington Sports Complex Field #1 was a perfect location Tuesday afternoon to swing into the 2015 prep baseball season.
Both before - with clear, cirrus cloud-accented skies and temperatures in the high 60s - and after the Bayfield varsity-Piedra Vista JV contest, with local Little Leaguers warming up all around and some even bragging about their ability to 'pitch' an eephus [read on for more]...the overall mood was simply celebratory.
And though the basketball-depleted Wolverines ultimately fell to the 5A-level Panthers, 11 to 5, there was still plenty of positivity for the visitors to think upon and bring back to Colorado.
"I thought we swung the bats a lot better than how we did on Saturday, thought we progressed a lot," said catcher Kelton McCoy. "Our freshman guys-like Cole Wood-struggled on Saturday and then they come out today and get some hits! It's good progression for later in the season."
Given the start in right field by Jon Qualls and inserted in the lineup's nine-hole, Wood knocked a single to left in his first varsity at-bat, and soon scored BHS' second run of the spring when first baseman Noah Loutherback was plunked by PVHS right-hander Colton Foster with the bases loaded (via a one-out walk to pitcher Brody McGhehey and a subsequent McCoy flare single to right).
"I was pretty surprised I got that; it was my first time hitting with a wood bat," said the aptly-named Wood, who went 1-for-3 but also reached base on an error. "So it was a good hit for me, for my first varsity game."
Loutherback got the game's scoring started with a first-inning, one-out sacrifice fly to right, plating speedy senior leadoff man Anthony Chamblee from third after he'd initially reached first when Panther second baseman Brandon Montoya bobbled his roller.
And after Wood touched home, Bayfield (0-1, 0-0 3A Intermountain) added two more runs when senior Colter McMenimen cracked a single to right to bring home McGhehey and McCoy (3-3, 2B, R, RBI) and put the guests ahead 4-0.
"It did mess us up a little.missing a lot of varsity players," Wood said. "But I think we did pretty good."
Piedra Vista countered, however, with four runs in the bottom of the third inning to chase McGhehey (ND; 3 IP, 4 R, 2 K, 4 BB) from the mound. Answering immediately, BHS pieced together a go-ahead scratch in the top of the fourth, with second baseman D.T. Meshew drawing a lead walk and later scoring after a McGhehey single to left and a McCoy sacrifice fly to center.
McCoy was then placed upon the hill and stranded a Panther at third when he got Cody McGaha to hit into a perfect 1-6-3 double play. McGaha would strike out swinging to end the fifth, but not before Piedra Vista got to McCoy (L, 0-1; 3 IP, 7 R, 4 K, 2 BB, HB) with four consecutive singles and, eventually, four runs.
PV's first three up in the sixth (Williamson, Sam Moody, Chase Silseth) also reached and scored before McMenimen, moved over into left after substitutions, gunned down Drew Yazzie at the plate-with Austin Bushnell receiving-to retire the side after a short Casey Simmons single.
"I haven't pitched in a while-haven't pitched in high school yet!" quipped McCoy. "So it was a good experience; I'm probably going to have to pitch in league sometime, so a good practice.for when it counts!"
Chandler Duvall, the third pitcher used by Panther skipper Lars Baker, earned the win after holding the Wolverines hitless and scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, fanning one and walking two. Foster, like McGhehey, took a no-decision after working three frames, allowing four runs and K'ing as many.
Moody went 3-for-4 with two runs and one batted in for PV, Williamson was 2-3 with three runs and three RBI, and Simmons was 2-3 with two walks and three ribbies.
"We had a couple fielding errors, bats were a little better than last week.. I don't know; we've just got a lot of stuff we've got to improve on," said McGhehey (1-3, R, BB). And included in that 'stuff'?
"Baseball," he said. "We just need to know the situations, fielding and batting. That's basically it."
EEPHUS EXPLAINED: The "eephus," a slow, back-spinning, high-arcing-as in over 20 feet high-was conceived and first thrown by major-leaguer Truett 'Rip' Sewell of Pittsburgh in 1942, after a hunting accident in late '41 badly injured the big toe off which he pitched.
Pirate teammate Maurice Van Robays dubbed the floateran 'eephus pitch.' His reason?
"Eephus ain't nothin' and that's what that ball is."
The pitch was famously belted for a homer in the 1946 All-Star Game by Boston Red Sox legend Ted Willliams.