Quality at-bats lead Miners to win over Union
Sam Strader recorded nine strikeouts on the mound for PCHS
April 21, 2017
Baseball is an imperfect game, since a player is considered a good hitter if he or she records a base hit three out of 10 plate appearances. Park City High School Head Coach David Feasler knows the sport is not without its challenges, which is why he wants to teach the players on Park City's team how to play the game.
"We try to be quality, not perfect," Feasler said. "A quality at-bat is a walk [or a] hit by pitch. A ball that's hit pretty hard, but is an out, that's still a quality at-bat. It's a process statistic that we like to use because batting average is a little bit flawed. You can get a lot of hits and not score the baseball a lot."
When the Miners started off Tuesday afternoon's home contest with Union with back-to-back line drives by Zack Luna and Ryan Brady — Feasler has been preaching hitting head-high line drives in practice– the head coach could feel a good game coming.
Park City went on to score two runs in the opening frame, courtesy of Colton Thompson's bat, to earn the early edge. The Miners added insurance runs throughout the game, but the two runs were all they needed, as they walked away from Park City High School with a 5-1 win over the Cougars.
"It's a big win," Feasler said. "I think that's one of our better games. The score was 5-1, but I think we played better than 5-1. Our quality at-bats were outstanding."
Thompson led the way with three runs batted in, with the final one coming in the bottom of third after reaching base safely on a passed ball after striking out. Payton Gross aided in the scoring effort by lining a double to left field just before Thompson's strikeout, scoring two Miners in the process.
Sam Strader was on the mound for Park City, finishing the game with nine strikeouts in six innings. Wyatt Hudgens closed it out in the seventh, earning one strikeout in his inning of work.
"Sam did an awesome job," Feasler said. "He was much sharper than he was last week. And then Wyatt, again, did an amazing job. I give a lot of the credit to our pitching staff, our pitching coach Marshall Crawford."
In addition to the coaching staff, there's another crutch the pitchers have used this season: catcher Gross. The junior has been a stalwart behind the plate, blocking potentially wild pitches and keeping opposing baserunners honest with his arm.
In fact, the coaches trust Gross so much they have given himthe wheel when it comes to being a high school catcher.
"Payton called a heck of a game," Feasler said. "He's working his butt off for these pitchers."
Starting the season, Feasler and the staff opted to call the game themselves, but they quickly found out Gross was much better-suited to do so.
"We gave him one [game to call] early in the season and he did an awesome job," Feasler said of Gross. "He's still learning and he's open to learning. He calls a great game and pretty much takes control."
Following the game's final pitch left Hudgens' hand, the usual high-fives and congratulations were exchanged among the Miners. Then, teammate Ryan Cook showed up in the mass of red and white jerseys near the dugout.
The team wasn't expecting Cook to join the rest of them at the field that afternoon, as his father, David, passed away two days prior in an automobile accident. But the sophomore, dressed in street clothes, but proudly displaying his Park City baseball cap, couldn't stay away from his teammates and wanted to show his support.
The high-fives turned into hugs, as each member of the team, both coaches and players, shared their condolences with Cook in a touching moment on the diamond.
"We were all glad Ryan was there to see the game and support us," Feasler said. "It was a cool moment after the game when Ryan came and talked to the team. There were a lot of emotions and hugs shared. It was cool to see how close of a family [the Park City Baseball community] is."
The Miners had a rematch with Union on Friday afternoon on the road, but this issue had already gone to print by the time the game was over. Park City will play Grantsville at home on Tuesday afternoon before playing host to Stansbury on Thursday in a battle of top region teams.