The Evanston Legion AA baseball team celebrated the 4th of July Weekend on the road, posting a 2-2 record at the Firecracker Wood Bat Classic in Orem, Utah.
The Outlaws were dispatched 9-0 by the Utah Horns in the tournament opener Friday, but rebounded to beat the Rocky Mountain Vibes 3-1 later that afternoon. Evanston struggled to find an answer Saturday morning against Emery, losing 11-3; they bounced back Saturday afternoon, closing out the tournament with a 9-8 win over Brighton.
“We had a good weekend, against some very strong teams,” said Outlaws manager Jason Mitchell. “We got creative with our lineup, did some different things. All-in-all, it was a great experience.”
Because of the format used by the Rocky Mountain School of Baseball (the entity that hosted the event), teams were allowed up to 14 batters, an option coach Mitchell and his staff took full advantage of.
“The RMSB isn’t as strict as the American Legion, so we were able to bat all 14 of our guys in each game,” coach Mitchell explained. “Not all teams use that option, but we wanted to give everybody an opportunity to bat this weekend, see who our hot bats are heading into conference play. The fact that we got two wins was icing on the cake.”
The Outlaws return home Wednesday for the first time in a month, hosting a conference twin bill against Rock Springs at Ross Kesterson Field. Coach Mitchell said his team is looking forward to playing in the friendly confines of their home field.
“We’re excited to get back home, play some ball in front of friends and family,” he said.
Utah Horns 9, Outlaws 0
The Outlaws got the weekend off to a slow start Friday, managing just two hits in a 9-0 loss to the Utah Horns. Evanston also struggled in the field, finishing with an uncharacteristic six errors.
Kemmerer’s Clayton Moyles took the loss on the hill for Evanston, allowing eight runs on four hits in two innings of work, though only three of those runs were earned; he also struck out four. Caleb Gooding pitched two innings in relief, giving up one run on four hits.
“It may not look like it from the box score, but Clayton pitched really well,” coach Mitchell said. “He’s one of those guys where — if we’re going to make a run at the state tournament — we’re going to need on the mound, whether it’s in relief, or giving us some starts. I think we got him back on track this weekend, so that was pretty exciting.”
Moyles helped his cause at the plate, tallying one of the Outlaws’ two hits in the contest; Gus Allred was responsible for the team’s other hit.
Outlaws 3, Rocky Mountain Vibes 1
With zero time to dwell on their opening-round loss, the Outlaws got things going on the mound and at the plate Saturday afternoon, outlasting the Rocky Mountain Vibes 3-1.
An RBI single in the bottom of the first off the bat of Outlaws third baseman Bodie Wicks gave Evanston an early 1-0 lead; the recent EHS graduate followed that with a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-0. The Vibes plated a run in the top of the seventh, but that was as close as they would get, falling 3-1.
Wicks — who’s seen his batting average improve dramatically over the past month — led the Outlaws at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double and 3 RBIs.
“Bodie Wicks right now is our team’s hottest hitter,” coach Mitchell said. “He’s absolutely crushing the baseball. He’s seeing the ball really well right now, and he’s just become a hitting machine for us. I’m so happy for him, and the way he’s been playing.”
Jagger Mitchell, Ashton Eldredge and Jayden Schneider each tallied a hit in the winning effort.
Caleb Gooding got the start on the bump for the Outlaws, and earned his second win of the season, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out one in five-and-two-thirds innings of work. Jayden Schneider picked up the save, throwing an inning-and-a-third of no-hit ball.
“Caleb Gooding had a great day on the mound for us,” coach Mitchell said. “He’s not going to overpower anybody — he’s really not a strikeout guy — but he throws a lot of ground balls. If our defense is playing well behind him, chances are we’re going to be successful. He’s the kind of pitcher you want in a wood bat tournament.”
Emery 11, Outlaws 2
The Curse of the Big Inning reared its ugly head Saturday morning, as the Outlaws gave up 10 runs in the bottom of the third to a hot-hitting Emery team. Evanston struggled defensively, as well, committing six errors in an 11-2 loss.
“Emery is a really good, solid ball club,” coach Mitchell said. “We just had too many errors. They also hit well against one of our better pitchers. They put the ball in play a lot, and we needed a couple of big plays to stick with them. Instead, we kinda kicked the ball around a little bit.”
Outlaws ace Gus Allred was saddled with the loss, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on five hits, and striking out eight in two-and-two-thirds innings. Jagger Mitchell and Caysen Smith combined to pitch an inning in relief, with Smith striking out two.
Outlaws third baseman Bodie Wicks accounted for two of Evanston’s four hits in the contest; Hank Allred and Jayden Schnider had a hit apiece, while Ashton Eldredge and Smith each drove in a run.
Outlaws 9, Brighton 8
Saturday’s finale against Brighton turned into the Hank Allred Show at the plate — hitting out of the sixth spot, the younger of the two Allred brothers smacked a grand slam home run in the bottom of the first, and followed that with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth to lead Evanston to a a 9-8 win.
“With a wood bat, Hank just crushed the ball, he hit an absolute nuke,” coach Mitchell said of Allred’s home run, his second of the season. “That was really cool to see. And to follow that with an RBI double in his next at-bat was pretty special.”
Kemmerer’s Caysen Smith picked up the win in relief for the Outlaws, giving up one run on two hits, and striking out one in two innings of work. Ashton Eldredge got the start, allowing seven runs on seven hits and striking out five over four innings, though only one run was earned.
“Ashton’s arm started bothering him a bit, which is a little concerning,” coach Mitchell said. “We ended up pulling him earlier than we wanted to. Caysen came in and pitched really well to pick up the win, against another really good team.”
At the plate, Jagger Mitchell, Bodie Wicks and Smith tallied a hit each, with Wicks and Smith driving in a run. Eldredge and Erik Greer also had an RBI in the contest.
“I think our kids learned in that game that they can play with anybody,” coach Mitchell said. “Brighton is a really talented team, and the guys are starting not to be intimidated by these big programs. We’re playing ball and getting after it, which bodes well for the rest of the season.”