SMITHFIELD — It wasn’t the start the Blue Sox were hoping for, but they didn’t panic, nor dwell on their last Northern Utah League game.
Wyatt Barrus settled down nicely after a shaky start on the mound, Chris Caldera shined from the No. 9 spot in the lineup, and Smithfield rallied past Logan for a 4-3 victory on a beautiful Friday night at Richard V. Hansen Baseball Park.
“We played these guys Wednesday and they took it to us, and so it was kind of a here-we-go-again (feeling) the way the first inning started,” Smithfield center fielder Jordan Hansen said. “It’s just nice when you can finally get off zero (on the scoreboard), and for whatever reason when you score one run everyone just kind of settles in and the at-bats become better. ... We have a good group of guys and everybody genuinely wants everyone to succeed.”
Indeed, the Royals rolled to a 13-6 triumph over the Blue Sox earlier this week, and it appeared Logan was well on its way to improving to 3-1 against Smithfield this season. Logan’s first two batters reached base in the top of the first, and Brayden Anderson smacked a RBI double to deep center to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
A chop single by Tyson Martin put the Royals up 2-0, and Logan plated one more run in the inning on a Smithfield error.
To his credit, Barrus wasn’t rattled by Logan’s quick start. No. 20 gave up three hits in the opening frame, but limited the Royals to zero runs on one base knock over the next four innings. Barrus struck out four, walked three and plunked one in his five innings on the bump.
“He really didn’t even know he was pitching until he got to the park, and I think he got here at 7 (p.m.),” Hansen said of Barrus. “You’ve got to love when guys will go out and compete for you, and then it shows the way the rest of the team responds and picks him up. And he ends up getting a win because he finds a way to figure it out and go five innings, so it’s nice to have guys that will do that for you.”
Rhett Nielsen and Zach Hansen each pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the Blue Sox, who improved to 4-2 in games decided by one run this summer.
Smithfield pared its deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the third on the first of Caldera’s two runs. No. 44 blooped a single to left-center, stole second base and eventually crossed home plate on a wild pitch.
Caldera accounted for three of Smithfield’s four runs as he lined a RBI single to left field in the fifth inning.
“Yeah, he’s there for a reason,” Jordan Hansen said of Caldera. “He’s scrappy and he’ll use the whole field, and he’s a high-energy guy. He likes to make things happen and, as you can see, he’s finding ways on (base), which is big with your lead-off (batter) coming up. ... He’s been good in that spot all year for us.”
The Blue Sox pushed three runs across in the bottom of the fifth on a pair of hits and walks to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Jordan Hansen came through with a two-run single to pull the hosts ahead.
Jordan Hansen and Caldera finished with two base knocks apiece for Smithfield.
The Royals made things very interesting in the top of the seventh. Kaden Bowler reached on an infield single, Dallen Godfrey singled through the 5-6 hole and Tanner Richardson flared a single to right to load the bases with only one out.
However, Zach Hansen dug deep to earn the save for the Blue Sox. The Dixie State University-bound ace struck out Martin and then tracked down a pop-up in foul territory to slam the door.
“Well, that seems to always happen to me, a few little singles and an error,” said Zach Hansen, who started the game at shortstop. “Just to battle back and get that strikeout was big. It kind of shifted the momentum from them to me. ... Sometimes it’s tough to got out there in the last inning and try to close the game when you’ve been playing infield all night already, but I just try to come in and throw strikes and get ahead in the count.”
Anderson and Bowler had two hits each for the Royals, and Bowler made some really nice defensive plays at third base.
Parker Murdock was rock solid on the mound for Logan, despite taking the loss. Murdock scattered six hits, all singles, in six innings. The recent Sky View graduate belted a pair of home runs, doubled, drove in a trio of runs and scored three times against Smithfield earlier this week.