Carbon takes it on the chin in home opener
After the loss of key seniors from last years championship team, no one knew how good this years version of the Carbon Dinos baseball team would be.
A second place finish at the Pizza Hut Classic last weekend gave everyone the indication that this team was a very good one, but were vulnerable.
That vulnerability showed up again on Tuesday afternoon when the Dons from Spanish Fork High showed up and handed Carbon their first home loss in two seasons. In a 12-2 win, Spanish Fork, a 4A school, showed that the 3A champs would have some work to do this year if they are going to repeat as 3A title holders.
It was an evening of things that didn't quite go right. The score board wasn't working because the power is still off from the football field construction that has been going on since last summer. The grass isn't green yet, and the field is only in fair shape from the long layover. And Carbon's pitching still needs to find it's direction, after being stored away for the long, cold winter.
Right from the beginning Spanish Fork took control. Three runs generated by three hits in the first inning put the Dons ahead and gave them an edge they never relinquished.
Zac Cloward began the pitching duties for Carbon. At times he looked awesome; only a few little let downs allowed the Dons to score.
On the other side of the game, Carbon's bats were fair, but not great. However, as the game rolled on the batting improved. It is obvious the talent and power are there, and that is the reason for pre season games.
At the end of the first inning the score was 3-0.
In the second inning both teams struggled at home, with neither able to score anything at all.
The third inning brought on an onslaught of strong Don bats and by the end of the inning, Spanish Fork was up 6-0. A double by Troy Grundy during Carbon's half brought up the spirits of the team, but he was not able to score.
A pitching change on Carbons part also punctuated the play. Coach Lane Herrick inserted Matt Jewkes, who began strong.
The fourth inning became Carbons as they held Spanish Fork down and were able to put two across home plate in the likes of Jeff Anderson and Jamal Lewis. These scores were all made based on some steals by Anderson and some good hitting by the dugout crew who were watching the play. At one point, Anderson took a good tumble trying to get to third base after taking a lead off toward home. Spanish Fork's pitcher tried to toss it to third to nab him; Anderson and the Don's third baseman got tangled up with Anderson getting thumped while losing his helmet. When the dust cleared the ball was laying on the ground and Anderson was safe. He then went onto score.
As the fifth inning came on it looked better for the Dinos. Their scoring machine had begun to grind out the runs and they were positive it would continue.
Unfortunately it didn't and neither did their defense.
The Don's held Carbon down and they proceeded to put four more runs on the board. Then the Dons were up again. When Carbon got up to bat again and Jewkes came out to Herrick who was coaching third base and told him he was through for the game. He just didn't feel he could pitch anymore.
When the Dinos took the field again, Lewis went from third base, where he had made some spectacular plays in the first four and a half innings, to the mound. His first pitch went wild and hit the back stop with a bang. Control became an issue that Carbon could not resolve. The Don's scored two more times, once on a walk and that was the end of the game.
Spanish Fork had won by scoring 12 runs on eleven hits with only one error in the field.
Carbon, had managed eight hits, but had not been able to string them together enough to challenge the Dons. The Dinos also committed three errors.
"Our pitching was somewhat worn out from last weekend in St. George," said Herrick on Wednesday morning. "For both Cloward and Lewis it was the first out of the season, so they are just getting up to speed."
That is particularly true for Cloward who had surgery on his should in the off season.
Carbon fans should not be disheartened however. Last year Carbon did beat the Dons in the preseason, and then the kids from south Utah County went on to win their region.
"They have one of the top programs in 4A, so it was a good test for us," stated Herrick. "As I told everyone early on we won't be a 25-0 team this year, but we will be there in the end and do well."
The team will be tested again on Friday when they face Region 10's Park City at 3 p.m. on the Dino field behind the high school.
It remains to be seen whether the score board will work or if the grass will be a little greener. However, the team will be ready for the Miners and could very well come away with a win.