POCATELLO — Rhys Pope knew he wasn't going to get very many innings out of his starter on Tuesday night.
Payson Mills is on a pitch count of 30 as he builds his arm strength back up, and when he hit that number in the second — went over it, actually, throwing 42 pitches in an action-packed 1 1/3 innings that included three hits, two strikeouts and one run allowed — the Gate City Grays manager went to his bullpen.
But Pope also knows — or at least is starting to figure out, six games into his precocious tenure at the helm of the Grays — that his team has plenty of depth on the bench, the kind that makes a manager look good even when he has to take his starting pitcher out before the end of the second inning.
That was on full display Tuesday in an 18-8, six-inning win over the Brigham City Peaches, a victory that concluded the Gray's first homestand of the year at a perfect 3-0 and moved them to 5-1 overall.
Starkly contrasted against a Brigham City team that was a couple bad breaks away from asking fans to throw on a uniform — the Peaches dressed just 10 players — Gate City used three pitchers and contributions from up and down the lineup to take the win.
"I was trying to save guys for different days. We still have three games this week, so I just want as many pitchers fresh as I can," Pope said. "Payson Mills, he's just getting back to it, so I don't want to over-extend him."
Kyler Spracklen, who was playing American Legion ball this time last year, struck out four in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Mills to earn the win.
Trent Seamons, the longest-tenured Gray — and Pope's predecessor as manager — ran into trouble multiple times but also struck out four over two innings to end it.
Eight out of the nine starters for the Grays had at least one hit, and Trei Hough, the one who didn't, still drove in a run and scored twice.
"When you can put up 18 runs, it's a team effort, and everybody from pitching to defense to hitting was fantastic," Pope said. "As a coach, that's awesome to have 1 through 9, guys coming off the bench that can do their job."
Easton Watterson, Braden Palmer, Seamons and Brayden Pieper, the 1 through 4 hitters, went a combined 14 for 20 with seven runs scored and 10 RBIs.
The Grays play at Hyrum on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.