POCATELLO — Nick Winters was met at home plate by his teammates, who excitedly awaited Winters’ arrival.
After completing his triumphant trot around the bases, Winters skipped across home and knocked helmets with his Gate City Grays allies.
Winters’ three-run home run was the highlight of the Grays’ 11-4 win Saturday in game one of a doubleheader against the Smithfield Blue Sox at Halliwell Park. The fifth-inning blast to left field gave the Grays an 8-3 advantage and was part of the team’s 16-hit onslaught.
The team-wide offensive surge was a refreshing return to normalcy for Gate City (9-8, 8-4 Northern Utah League).
The Grays entered Saturday averaging 7.1 runs per game this season, yet were limited to five runs combined in home losses Monday and Thursday against the South East Idaho Threads.
The Grays scored three runs in three different innings Saturday, finishing with their fourth double-digit run output this season.
Gate City trailed 2-0 after the top of the first, but led 4-2 by the end of the third and added onto the lead from there. KC Qualls finished 4 for 4 with two doubles and three runs, Kris Gokey went 3 for 4 with a double, and Hayden Foltz and Jordan Sadovia added two hits apiece.
PHOTOS: Grays vs. Blue Sox
The Grays were aided by four Smithfield errors, but they mostly made their own luck. Gate City tallied at least two hits in five different innings, including four in the fifth and five in the sixth.
On the mound, Jared Lessar and Connor Gibson combined to limit the Blue Sox to five hits through six innings. Lessar settled in after a long opening inning that took him 33 pitches to finish. He gave up two runs and two walks in the frame, but didn’t allow any more runs until he was pulled after three innings.
Gibson relieved Lessar during the fourth, fifth and sixth, when he gave up two runs on three hits. Geo Sebena closed the door in the seventh.
Game two: Blue Sox beat Grays 4-2
The Grays were held to three hits in the nightcap, a 4-2 loss.
Blue Sox pitcher Cody Godfrey struck out five and walked none in a complete game.
Braden Palmer’s sixth-inning solo home run got the Grays on the board. Anthony Pannullo singled home Hayden Foltz in the seventh to get the Grays within 4-2. The game ended with runners on first and second base in the seventh.
Grays starting pitcher Chris Needham gave up eight hits over five innings. Wyatt Barrubach led Smithfield’s offense, going 3 for 4.
The Grays host the South East Idaho Threads on Tuesday at Halliwell Park.
GATE CITY 11, SMITHFIELD 4
Smithfield 200 011 0 — 4 6 4
Gate City 103 133 x — 11 16 2
Smithfield — LP: Coughlin. 2B: Barrus, #23.
Gate City — WP: Gibson. 2B: Qualls (2), Gokey. 3B: H. Foltz. HR: Winters.
SMITHFIELD 4, GATE CITY 2
Smithfield 000 121 0 — 4 11 2
Gate City 000 001 1 — 2 3 2
Smithfield — WP: Godfrey. 2B: Mercado.
Gate City — LP: Needham. 2B: H. Foltz. HR: Palmer.