We’ve always felt like we’re in the game, regardless of the score. Our game is against the ball – our mind set doesn’t change. —Grand assistant coach Ron Dolphin
MOAB — Heading into the bottom of the second inning of their second-round 2A playoff game against Parowan on Saturday, the Grand Red Devils were struggling defensively, having given up five runs and six hits as the Rams grabbed an early 5-1 lead.
Starting pitcher Koi Cook wasn’t worried, however.
“We had a rough start, but I knew we just had to get some energy and momentum going our way and we’d be all right,” Cook said after the game. Grand rallied to score five runs in the bottom of the second inning, followed by six more runs in the third as the Red Devils rolled on to an eventual 15-10 victory.
They beat Enterprise in a first-round game earlier in the day.
Cook, a junior, had a monster day at the plate, hitting 7 for 7 over the two games and reaching base all nine times he batted (he walked once and was hit by a pitch). In the Red Devils’ two wins Saturday, Cook hit one home run, two triples, two doubles, and two singles for a total of eight RBIs. He also scored six times — three runs in each game.
Cook even pulled up short at third base on his seventh and final hit of the day, instead of trying to stretch the triple into what could have been a probable inside-the-park home run. Cook’s legs had cramped up so badly that he needed a substitute base runner to run in his place and score the second of two insurance runs in the sixth inning as the Red Devils extended their lead to 15-9 against the Rams.
“I had cramps all down my legs,” added Cook, who nevertheless returned to the mound and pitched one more inning to finish the game. “It was a long game. But the whole team played great, both offensively and defensively, and this is a credit to them.
“We wanted this, and we deserve this,” added Cook.
Cook got plenty of help from his teammates, as all nine Grand players in the lineup got at least one hit against Parowan, and each of the nine scored at least once as well. The Red Devils had 16 total hits.
Designated hitter Cameron Taylor, who didn’t play during Grand’s opening-round win over Enterprise, went 3 for 5, including a two-run homer in the third inning.
After Parown's starting pitcher walked two batters to begin the inning, the Rams inserted a relief pitcher. He did inherit a lead, but Grand’s Cook, who had reached base on a hit by pitch, attempted a steal of home with the bases loaded. The pitcher was called for a balk on the play, giving Grand the go-ahead run, 6-5. The relief pitcher later struck out the last two batters to end the inning, but the damage had been done and Grand never trailed again.
“We’ve always been competitors,” said Grand assistant coach Ron Dolphin after the game. “We’ve always felt like we’re in the game, regardless of the score. Our game is against the ball – our mind set doesn’t change.
“That second inning was big,” Dolphin added. “Our kids are mentally tough, and they got right back in the game and took control of it.”
In other action at the regional playoffs held at Moab on Saturday:
Parowan 9, Rowland Hall 0: Jake Topham picked up the shutout win on the mound in the first round.
Grand 9, Enterprise 2: Freshman Dalton McElhaney pitched the entire game and earned the win for Grand. The Red Devils collected 10 hits, including a home run over the left-field fence by Cook, who went 3 for 3 at the plate with five RBIs.
Enterprise 14, Rowland Hall 1: The Wolves opened up a big lead early on and coasted to victory, keeping themselves alive in the one-loss bracket until the 2A tournament continues next week.