In the words of Logan Royals player-coach Doug Anthony, “wins are way more fun.” And the Royals got just their third of the season Friday, 7-5, over the Hyrum Hornets at Worthington Park.
Though obviously pleased with the victory for his Royals, Anthony doesn’t lose any sleep over the lackluster regular season record.
“In this league, wins don’t even matter,” he said. “We can make the championship with losing every game during the regular season. We’re out here having fun.”
The fun didn’t really get started until the third inning and it wasn’t Logan who kicked off the festivities.
With two Hyrum baserunners on — Ptobias Takis and Brady Hall — shortstop Ty Jones stepped up to the plate and cracked a ball into deep left field. The fence on that side in Worthington Park is 336 feet from home. Jones’ shot went 336.5 feet, narrowly eluding the outstretched mitt of Tyson Martin as he tried to rob Jones of the three-run dinger.
Logan didn’t take that lying down, though it took considerably more than one swing of the bat for the Royals to properly respond. Having made it through the entire batting order without a single hit, lead-off batter Cade Capener led off a run of five consecutive Royal hits. Martin, Tanner Richardson and Cam Beyer each, in turn, hit n RBI, one after the other, before a groundout ended the inning — but not before the game was tied at three apiece.
While Hyrum’s key early play was the stuff of highlight reels, Logan’s more methodical five-hit stretch wound up being the better long-term option. After the third, the Royals kept up the pace with seven additional hits and four runs with the Hornets getting five, much more isolated hits and just two scores.
Allowing 12 hits and seven runs to the Royals didn’t sit well with Hyrum coach James Hunt. Though he noted that the Hornets had to play several players out of position due to absences, it didn’t stop Hunt’s blunt declaration.
“This is the worst defense we’ve played all year,” he asserted.
The pitching for Hyrum, though initially a no-hitter through 2.2 innings, didn’t do that defense any favors. Nor did the infield help as it committed a pair of errors, one of which led to a run in the fourth inning.
On the other hand, Logan put up a solid defensive performance, even with the nine hits allowed. Anthony praised the mound performance of Brayden Anderson multiple times after the game. Anderson pitched the whole game for the Royals, fanning five batters and walking just three.
“He did a great job,” Anthony said of Anderson. “This is a great hitting team, Hyrum is. Everybody in their lineup can hit the ball and I think Brayden had a few of their (players’) numbers.”
Anderson’s pitching kept a strong hitting side in check, but perhaps the defining defensive play in the game came from Capener. In the top of the fifth with two men on base and one out and the game standing at 4-3 in Logan’s favor, Nic Rassmussen hit a hot line drive between second and third. Capener dove and caught the ball mere inches above the dirt and tagged second to close out what could have been a dangerous situation.
“That was huge,” Anthony said of the Capener’s play. “(Hyrum) could have easily gotten two or three runs right there.”
The Royals didn’t wait to take advantage of the momentum-shifting play. In the bottom of the fifth, Logan strung together three hits for three runs in a stretch that ultimately sealed the game. Two runs came off the back of an unfortunate play.
Jonathan Swenson hit a long arcing ball into deep left, where Hall sprinted to try and make a play on it if not a catch at the fence. Hall couldn’t quite contort his body to do so. Having missed his prize, Hall completed a collision course with the outfield fence, collapsed and did not get up until the play had run its course and Swenson had crossed home plate for a two-RBI inside-the-park home run.
Hyrum had a brief glimmer of hope in the seventh when Jones hit a second home run to close the gap to two runs, but failed to make anything more after the solo homer. Jones went 3 for 4 on the night, driving in four of the Hornets’ five runs.
Logan’s hitting was a little more spread out. Martin hit two doubles in a 3 for 4 performance at the plate, with an RBI. Capener went 2 for 4, also getting a double, and Swenson was 2 for 3 with a double and the inside-the-park homer that gave him both his RBIs on the night. Overall, eight of the nine men in the Royals’ lineup ended up with one hit.