POCATELLO — Gate City responded to controversy by making sure there were no more momentum swings.
After the Logan Royals thought they scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning, the Grays finished the job in the home half. KC Qualls’ walk-off single with one out in the bottom of the eighth scored Tory Hansen from second base to give Gate City (15-10, 13-8 Northern Utah League) a crucial 6-5 extra-innings home win Monday to begin the final week of the regular season that will determine postseason seeding.
Minutes earlier, the Royals’ Dallen Godfrey scampered home after a passed ball, appearing to give his team a 6-5 lead. But the play was already over. Grays pitcher Hayden Foltz and catcher Dawson Keller were walking back to the pitcher’s mound and home plate when Godfrey scored, but Gate City third baseman Nick Winters called for time just before Godfrey left third base. The run was negated, and Foltz’s next pitch struck out Tyler Martin, stranding Godfrey on third to end the inning and giving the Grays their final injection of energy.
After Hansen led off the bottom of the eighth with a hit by pitch, Braden Palmer bunted him to second and Qualls ended the game on a single up the middle, past a diving Godfrey at shortstop.
“That’s the best way to end those games,” Qualls said.
Qualls’ game-ending hit marked the fourth lead change of the night. Logan went ahead 1-0 in the first and retook the lead at 2-1 in the third. Gate City then went up 4-2 in the third before the Royals eventually knotted it at 5-5 in the fifth.
“That was a grind,” Grays manager Trent Seamons said.
Qualls’ eighth-inning single came in his fifth plate appearance against Logan starting pitcher Cody Godfrey. Qualls said Cody Godfrey always performs well against the Grays, including a 12-inning game during a previous season in which Godfrey pitched the entire way.
“That always helps,” Qualls said of facing Godfrey a fifth time Monday. “But this guy in the past has had our number. He’s controlled the games. … He’s a stud.”
Qualls’ hit gave Foltz the win on the mound. Foltz pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits, with five strikeouts and three walks. He struck out the side in the eighth.
Seamons said he joked with Foltz — who is normally an outfielder — about pitching before the start of Monday’s game.
When starting pitcher Cameron Corpus and first reliever Spencer Persky both struggled, Foltz was called upon to stop the bleeding as Seamons tried to conserve his primary pitchers for the rest of the week.
“I put the lineup together and I said, ‘I’m going to start Ethan (Hunt) out in right and I’ll leave Hayden on the bench, just in case,’” Seamons said. “He was ready. We needed that. He just came in and threw strikes, attacked their hitters. They got themselves out.”
Corpus labored through four innings but tiptoed out of trouble. He limited Logan to one run in the first after walking the bases loaded with no outs and got an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and one out in the second.
“We helped them out. Our infielders made some plays,” Qualls said. “It was all-around.”
Qualls had two hits and two walks, Hunt cracked two RBI doubles and Chase Barrera went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles. Gate City’s pitching committee and defense stranded 13 Logan runners on base.
“That’s what makes a good, championship team,” Qualls said. “There’s always going to be guys who are going to play down below their potential that day. As long as our other guys step up and take care of business for them, that’s all you can ask of a team. I think we have it.”
The Grays finish the week with a home game Thursday against the South East Idaho Threads, the NUL all-star game and home run derby Friday night at Halliwell Park, and a home doubleheader Saturday against Smithfield. The Northern Utah League playoffs begin Monday.
NOTE: Gate City’s game against Providence that was originally scheduled for last Wednesday has been forfeited by Providence.
GATE CITY 6, LOGAN 5 (8)
Logan 101 030 00 — 5 8 3
Gate City 103 100 01 — 6 9 2
Logan — LP: C. Godfrey.
Gate City — WP: H. Foltz. 2B: Hunt (2).