The latest installment of the Utah Peaches vs. Logan Royals rivalry featured just about everything, from clutch pitching, to stellar defensive plays, to streaky hitting, to missed opportunities.
Perhaps it was fitting that Tuesday night’s Northern Utah League baseball game went an extra two innings. The ninth inning was especially riveting as both teams scored multiple runs with two outs, but the Peaches were able to hold off the Royals by a 7-6 scoreline at Worthington Park.
Logan had the tying run at second base and the winning run at first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before Utah pitcher Jarett Giles was able to induce a fly ball to center fielder Chris Shopbell to slam the door for the visitors.
“Those are fun games,” Peaches catcher Zac Egbert said. “Just the thrill of a game like this, these are the best games. It was a lot of fun.”
Egbert’s younger brother, Nic, provided the heroics when he flared a two-run single to center field on a difficult pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth, giving the Peaches a 7-4 advantage. The left-hander felt a little less pressure after a wild pitch earlier in his at-bat allowed Hayden Smoot to score and gave the visitors the lead for good.
“It felt good just to hit that ball,” Nic Egbert said. “I mean, I hadn’t really gotten any hits today, but that one was clutch. That’s what we really needed, so it felt good.”
The Peaches were able to load the bases with one out in the top of the ninth courtesy of back-to-back singles by Smoot and Chris Shopbell, coupled with an intentional walk of Zac Egbert. Royals pitcher Tyler Hinkle was called for a balk with Egbert at the plate, so the Royals elected to intentionally walk the 2019 Logan High graduate so they would have a better shot of a potential inning-ending double play.
Hinkle struck out the ensuing Utah batter for out No. 2, but Nic Egbert was able to come through for his team.
“I knew Nic was going to do something good,” said Zac Egbert, who was bummed out about being intentionally walked. “I was like, ‘Oh, they’re going to walk Egbert, so Nic will prove them something,’ and he did it. He didn’t let me down. I knew he was going to do something big, so that was cool.”
To the Royals’ credit, they were undaunted by a three-run deficit. Logan had already battled back from a 4-1 hole earlier in the contest.
Nevertheless, it didn’t appear like another rally was in the cards for the Royals after Giles struck out their first two batters in the home half of the ninth. However, Cam Beyer drew a walk, Todd Allen followed with a RBI double to left field and Stetsen Karren pared Logan’s deficit to 7-6 with a run-scoring single to center.
The odds of Logan completing the comeback increased even more when Derek Anthony made it back-to-back-to-back base knocks for the hosts. Giles only allowed one hit during his previous three innings on the mound, and he was able to settle down and get that final out.
Indeed, Giles, who struck out four in his four innings on the bump, was rock solid for the Peaches, as was Nic Egbert, who pitched the first five frames. Egbert limited the Royals to one run through four innings.
“I did my job just pitching quick innings, at least trying to,” Nic Egbert said. “And then Giles tried to pitch quick innings too and he did a good job. It turned out pretty good for us.”
Likewise, Hinkle put together a gutty pitching performance for the Royals as he was one out away from completing the full nine innings. The southpaw scattered 10 hits, fanned eight and issued six free passes while delivering 128 total pitches.
Hinkle really only struggled to throw strikes during the top of the third, and that’s when the Peaches plated four runs on three walks, one hit batsman and one wild pitch. A Logan throwing error following a very hard-hit ball by Utah’s Ryan Greet with two outs proved costly as the visitors scored twice on that play.
That play was the exception, though, as both teams were outstanding defensively. For the Peaches, Shopbell robbed Josh Simon of a hit with a diving catch in center on the full sprint. Earlier in the game, Utah third baseman Marcus Callister made a jaw-dropping throw while laying on his side to gun out Sebastian McSherry at first base, plus Giles also denied McSherry of a hit from his shortstop position with an impressive backhand stab and throw.
As for the Royals, center field Ray Garcia made a couple of clutch catches on the run, while Tommy Clark, Anthony and Simon teamed up for a very nice inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Garcia drove in three runs for the Royals — — two on a home run over the fence in right in the bottom of the fifth. Simon and Beyer each chipped in with a pair of hits for Logan, which got two runs from Allen and a run, hit and RBI from Brayden Anderson, who was plunked twice. Beyer doubled in his second at-bat.
Shopbell doubled and singled for the Peaches, who got two runs, one hit and one RBI from Smoot, and a double, single and a run from Cade Capener. Zac Egbert, who celebrated his 20th birthday Tuesday, smacked a pair of singles and walked in his final three at-bats.