Though it seems like forever since the Park City High School baseball team last took to its home field, the first of two games on Tuesday afternoon against Uintah had a very familiar feel to it.
Chandler Barkdull was manning his usual catcher position and sporting the dirtiest jersey on the field, thanks in large part to his aggressive baserunning. Chandler Anderson was playing a smooth centerfield and also doing his part at the plate. There was Blake Morin, manning the shortstop position and slapping the ball all over the field. Ian Moritz picked up a couple hits from his customary spot near the bottom of the batting order and Griffin Churich, batting ninth, laid down yet another beautiful bunt.
But there were also some noticeable differences on Tuesday. Biggest of all was Scott Stokes, who took the mound and proceeded to do his best impression of Mark Trevino (Park City's ace last year). Stokes pitched seven strong innings, allowing only two runs in the Miners' 7-2 victory in the first game.
Stokes faced four batters or less in every inning but the seventh, when his arm appeared to get a little bit tired, amassing five strikeouts in the process and allowing only two walks, both in the seventh inning.
Park City coach Lou Green was impressed with the way Stokes was able to shake off a rough game at Juan Diego on Friday.
"The good news is Scott Stokes really threw the ball well for us again," he said. "Coming off an outing in which he was a little shaken up at Juan Diego, he came back out and showed his old form again. That was good to see."
At the plate, the Miners were strong in game one. Morin scored the first run in the third inning after hitting a double. He'd score on a throwing error by the Uintah catcher.
In the fourth inning, Moritz led off with a double. Churich laid down a bunt that not only advanced Moritz to third, but allowed him to reach first safely as well. Barkdull would follow with a sacrifice fly and Anderson then smacked an RBI single to give the Miners a 3-0 lead.
After Jack Lecher reached on an error in the fifth, Moritz hit a single, setting the stage for Barkdull, who walloped a pitch over the wall in left-centerfield to add three more runs to the Park City lead.
Jaxon Hermansen drove in Morin in the sixth inning on a single to complete the Park City scoring.
"That first game, we saw a lot of good things," Green said, noting that every hitter in the starting lineup reached base at least once. "Everyone's on the bases. We put pressure on their pitching and got to the bullpen in the fourth inning. That's huge to knock the starting pitcher out of the game."
Game two was a completely different story for the Miners.
Hermansen took the hill and had a rough first inning, walking three and giving up two hits and five runs while recording only one out. The Utes scored six total runs in the first frame in what turned into a 12-3 rout of Park City.
Green, who said after the Juan Diego doubleheader on Friday that he didn't like splitting doubleheaders, was disappointed after Tuesday's action.
"I'm twice as unhappy as I was Friday," he said. "Bottom line is the back line of our pitching isn't getting it done."
But it wasn't just the pitching staff that Green was disappointed in he felt the Miners gave up after surrendering an early lead.
"It's embarrassing that we competed that way," he said. "The one great thing about 99 percent of the games we play is that I walk away, no matter what, saying, 'Man, we competed our butts off.' I don't feel that way right now. We got down 6-0 and kind of mailed it in."
The loss set the stage for Friday's scheduled game at Uintah (after this issue went to press). Green said he couldn't underplay the importance of that road game and the implications it would have on the Region 10 title.
"That one becomes as important as any game we've ever played," he said. "Even if Juan Diego wins out, if we win the next seven games, that would still make the region championship game on May 5 [a game rescheduled due to snow], that last day of the season. So, we've got to get that one on Friday and then each of the six games after that are even more important."
Though Green said Friday's game would be tough, he was confident in Morin's ability to keep Park City competitive.
"Uintah's a really tough place to play, honestly," he said. "It's a little dusty, a little dark, a lot smaller ballpark. It's a tougher place for pitchers to pitch. That's one of the biggest reasons I held Blake back [in game two] for Friday. I just thought, going into a tough environment there, it'll be good to have a steady guy on the mound."
With Tuesday's doubleheader split, Park City is now 12-4 overall (2-2 in Region 10). The Miners will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host region opponent Morgan in a doubleheader. The games are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Park City High School.