HYRUM — A week ago, the top team in the Northern Utah League standings was given a reminder of how challenging it can be to consistently win games as the last place Peaches traveled to Hyrum and left with a 7-5 victory.
For the second time in the past eight days, the Peaches proved to be worthy competition for NUL leading Hyrum, but the Hornets were up to the task this time. Hyrum belted six extra-base hits en route to a 17-11 win over the visiting Utah Peaches on Tuesday night.
“I mean, you can’t take anyone for granted,” Hyrum third baseman Ty Jones said. “Anybody can beat anybody in this league and we just try and take it one game at a time, and do our part in scoring runs and getting wins.”
Jones certainly did his part in ensuring the hosts prevailed. The former Mountain Crest star smashed the ball in four of his five at-bats and was plunked on his third plate appearance. Jones homered twice, doubled and laced a ball to the fence that was caught by Utah left fielder Derek Wankier.
Jones, who belted 10 homers and drove in 30 runs in 40 games this past season for NCAA Division II program University of Mary (North Dakota), also contributed with five RBIs and three runs against the Peaches.
“Oh, it’s a great time,” Jones said. “There’s nothing better than finding the sweet spot on the bat and launching one into the air. ... And then when the team is scoring runs and everyone’s hitting, there’s nothing better. There isn’t any place I’d rather be.”
Jones and the Hornets (13-4 in NUL play) certainly needed to be on point offensively because the Peaches (3-11 in league action) also put together several quality at-bats. Utah actually outhit Hyrum by a 12-10 margin, but the Hornets committed three fewer errors than the Peaches and finished with six more free passes than the visitors. That ultimately was the difference in the game.
“They plated a lot of runs,” Jones said of the Peaches. “They were hitting our starting pitcher pretty good and we made a few errors here and there in the field, but yeah they were hitting it good, so we needed to be on our A game (offensively) for sure.”
Utah trailed 3-0 at the conclusion of the first inning, 6-3 after the second and 8-3 after the third, but battled back with five runs in the top of the fourth to pull even at 8-8. That momentum was short-lived, though, because Hyrum responded by putting a four-spot on the scoreboard in the home half of the fourth.
The Hornets then exploded for five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding 17-9 lead. Jones nearly invoked the 10-run mercy rule, but his aforementioned liner to left was a few feet shy of a three-run jack. Nevertheless, Jones and company was able to inflict more than enough damage to coast to another win.
“When they scored some runs in those innings, we just knew we had to punch back and get more runs on the board, and that’s what we did,” Jones said. “We did it every inning almost, and that makes us tough to beat.”
Hyrum was able to score multiple runs in five of the six frames it batted. Conversely, the Peaches plated eight of their runs in two innings.
“I feel like we have the best offense in the league if we have all of our bats going,” Jones said. “I mean, I think we’re a pretty tough team to beat. If we have good pitching, it should be a pretty good game every time.”
In addition to Jones, the Hornets got three base knocks from Ptolian Takis, who doubled, singled twice and scored a trio of runs. Brayden Schiess contributed with two runs, three free passes and a RBI double for Hyrum, which got three RBIs from Taylor Bitton, a pair of runs and RBIs from Tadon Burbank, two RBIs from Hudson Phelps and two runs apiece from Tanner Leishman and Preston Jones. Leishman walked twice and was plunked once.
Burbank smacked a two-run double over the center field’s head to help set the tone for the hosts in the opening inning. Jones’ first homer was a three-run bomb, the second one was a solo shot, and both of them cleared the fence comfortably.
Chris Shopbell led the charge offensively for the Peaches with four RBIs. Shopbell launched an impressive two-run shot over the fence in center in the seventh inning, and also came through with a two-run single in the fourth.
Cade Capener and Nic Egbert both doubled for the Peaches, who got two hits, a run and a RBI from Hunter Smoot and Wankier. Capener also singled, walked twice, scored a run and drove in another for Utah, while Egbert finished with a pair of hits and runs.
All six doubles in Tuesday’s showdown were very well hit.