PCHS baseball holds off Union 9-7 at home
The Park City High School baseball team got off to a hot start on Friday afternoon at PCHS and seemed to be well on its way to a victory against the visiting Union Cougars. Through four innings, the Miners held an 8-3 lead and sophomore pitcher Wyatt Hudgens was mowing down Union batters in his first varsity start.
In the top of the sixth inning, though, things changed quickly for the Miners. After Hudgens recorded two quick outs, he allowed a pair of singles. An error by the Miner defense let a run score and then a single by the next Cougar batter plated two more runs, cutting Park City’s lead to 8-6.
Sam Strader came in to get the last out of the sixth inning and watched from the dugout as Park City extended its lead to 9-6 in the bottom of the frame. Strader came back out to pitch the seventh, recording the first out before allowing a walk and a single. A throwing error by the Miners allowed Union to score another run and cut the Park City lead to 9-7.
With an important Region 10 contest on the line, the Miners inserted staff ace Ryan Brady to close out the game. The first batter Brady faced popped a pitch into shallow right field. Second baseman Zack Luna raced backward, avoided a diving right fielder, caught the ball and fired a perfect throw to third base to double up a Union baserunner who was trying to advance on the play, clinching a 9-7 Park City victory.
Park City Coach Eric Morgan said the win was a little more nerve-wracking than it should have been, but it was just what the team needed after a disappointing 2-1 loss at Tooele on Wednesday.
"It was a great bounce-back win," he said. "Hopefully, [Wednesday] was kind of a turning point in our season. When you lose to a team like that, you can stay down or you can bounce back up. I thought we bounced back up today."
Morgan said Hudgens was fantastic against the Cougars. Of the six runs he allowed, only one was earned.
"I thought he was great," Morgan said. "He had a big-time performance. He just needs a little more confidence throwing inside."
The Miners have struggled to score early in games all year, so Morgan said giving Hudgens a 3-0 lead in the first inning was critical to the sophomore’s success.
"Those early runs help him to relax," Morgan said. "He had a lead and he knew he could be in the [strike] zone a little more, especially with our defense. It definitely helps calm the pitcher down."
Josh Lansky led the way for the Miners at the plate. He drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the first inning and doubled in a run in the fourth. He also scored three runs.
"He’s just a guy who puts the ball in play," Morgan said. "He’s very disciplined at the plate and sees the ball well. He’s a great baserunner, too. When he gets on, he gets it."
Brady also had a successful game at the plate, driving in three Park City runs and scoring once. Luna and Sam Starley each scored twice and Joey Lukrich scored after reaching on an error in the second inning. Drew Castellanos and JC Pollard each drove in a run for the Miners.
Morgan said the Miners’ strong hitting was due to capitalizing on opportunities to advance runners.
"We executed our bunts and had three or four hit-and-runs, which was awesome," he said. "We haven’t done a good job with hit-and-runs early on. All those runs were manufactured by bunts, hit-and-runs and sacrifice flies — that was awesome to see."
Park City (8-9 overall, 5-3 in Region 10) was scheduled to play Grantsville at home on Tuesday afternoon, after this issue went to press. The Miners’ next home game is set for Thursday afternoon against Region 10 leader Stansbury at 3:30 p.m. Morgan said both of this week’s games are big for Park City.
"They’re huge," he said. "We’ve got to take care of business with those guys. That’s who we’re fighting [for the region title] right now."
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