The Park City High School baseball team has been waiting all season for a third and fourth pitcher to emerge in its rotation. Behind Scott Stokes and Blake Morin, the team hasn't gotten consistency from its other hurlers.
Now, with Stokes out for another week or so with a bad back and Morin battling minor elbow and knee issues, developing more consistent pitching becomes even more important.
The Miners got some good news on Tuesday afternoon at PCHS, when Maverick Berglund and Chandler Anderson combined to hold 4A powerhouse Skyline to just five runs en route to a 10-5 Park City victory.
Park City coach Lou Green said there are still things for his pitchers to work on, but he was happy with the results of Tuesday's game.
"Luckily, when Maverick and Chandler had to make pitches, they stepped up and made pitches," he said. "That's a huge confidence boost for us."
The key to Berglund and Anderson's success was the fact that they were consistently throwing
strikes and pitching to contact, Green added.
"We're looking for guys who can throw strikes," he said. "So it was good to see those two guys get in there and pound the zone."
Anderson said Park City's defense gave him the confidence he needed to pitch to contact and not try to strike out every hitter.
"We just came into the game throwing strikes," he said. "This proves if we can throw strikes, we have a good defense behind us. I'll let the guys hit it and let my teammates back me up."
Throwing strikes is the most important thing Park City pitchers can do, according to Green, who noted a common theme in Skyline's big innings.
"They had two two-run innings," he said. "Both started with a leadoff walk to their leadoff hitter - the fastest guy in their lineup. That's a little frustrating. I know I'm nitpicking, but I'm not happy with those leadoff walks turning into big innings. It happens every time, even in big-league games. Leadoff walks turn into runs.
At the plate, the Miners were very strong on Tuesday, with every hitter reaching base at least once.
Blake Morin got the scoring started in the first inning, driving in Chandler Barkdull and Anderson on a one-out single. Jaxon Hermansen followed with a single of his own, driving in Morin.
The Miners were then held in check until the fifth inning, when Morin and Hermansen scored on a two-run single by Parker Smith.
In the sixth, Ian Moritz drew a leadoff walk, Barkdull followed with a single and Griffin Churich knocked them both in with a double. After a single from Anderson (who would eventually score on a wild pitch), Hermansen drove in Churich and later scored on a balk by the Skyline pitcher.
Green said he's pleased with the consistency the Miners are starting to develop in their lineup, but pointed specifically to the play of Smith as a key reason the team is surging at the plate.
"I'd say the biggest surprise of our last three games has been Parker Smith," he said. "It hasn't showed up huge in the stats, but he's barreling balls up. He hit two more barrel shots today."
Anderson said the key to continuing the success at the plate will be keeping the right mentality every at-bat.
"We just need to keep the right approach - middle-away, squaring balls up," he said. "We just need to keep doing what we're doing and keep our heads up."
Park City (16-5 overall, 5-3 in Region 10) heads into next week facing a three-game series against region foe Union. Green said the importance of Tuesday's doubleheader at Union and Friday's game at PCHS can't be understated.
"Those are three must-win games for us," he said. "We absolutely have to win those games. [Stokes] is down and I don't think he'll pitch for us the rest of this week or next week, so that'll make it tougher to win three against Union. The next tough part is that Morin, who's our No. 2 starter, is also down on an elbow. We're trying to give him the rest of this week off. But it is what it is. We've got the next-man-up mentality. As hard as that is when your No. 1 and No. 2 starters are banged up, that's just what you've got to do."
The game on Friday, May 2, against Union at PCHS is scheduled for a 3 p.m. first pitch.