POCATELLO – Trei Hough was not the high school benchwarmer. Coaches are dissuaded from putting guys on the pine who look like they could be a Division I linebacker. So, whether it be on Pocatello’s football, basketball or baseball team, Hough played — a lot.
Except for the 2019 district tournament opener.
Pocatello held a practice the day before, a tune-up Hough was late for. On his way, he said, he was pulled over and rolled up to the Indians’ practice way after it began. Afterwards, Poky coach Vinnie Benavidez told to Hough to meet him at his house.
“Yeah, I’m not playing you tomorrow,’ Benavidez told Hough in the coach’s living room.
“I couldn’t really argue with him because I was late … I knew his tendencies and that was one of them. Don’t be late or else you’re not going to play,” said Hough, who’s now playing with the Gate City Grays. “I actually had a really good districts because I was like, I don’t need that to happen again. I hate not playing so, you know, it really drove me to not mess up again — especially with him.”
Since that day, Hough’s baseball career has only elevated. Though Pocatello fell in a state play-in game soon after Hough’s benching, the Pocatello slugger and ace signed to play at Treasure Valley Community College.
After two years in Ontario, Ore., the 6-foot-3, 220-pound right hander signed with the University of Jamestown — where he’ll be teammates with fellow Grays Austin Shirley and Payton Mills.
“Trei was one of our best players (at Pocatello),” Benavidez said. “He was a hitter, ace on the mound, good kid. There was a point in the season where I sat him and I was like, ‘You can be one of the best players in the state of Idaho but you screw off too much.’ He took it to heart and became one of the best players.”
This summer, the Grays needed to limit Hough’s innings after a full spring collegiate season and, still, Hough has pitched almost six innings for the Grays, allowing just four hits and four runs while punching out a half dozen.
He described himself as a bulldog on the mound, which doesn’t exactly seem right for a guy whose arsenal includes a six-pitch mix of a two-seam fastball, four-seamer, changeup, curveball, slider and splitter. But, perhaps, it’s apropos. Bulldogs can come at you in all types of ways. They don’t have to always be charging straightforward with a snarled nose and angry eyes and, so, Hough can attack up in the zone with a high-80’s fastball then come back and pin a mid-70s curveball to the inside of the plate like he’s shooting darts from an inch away.
“(I) just get after it, don’t be afraid to do anything,” Hough said. “I was our ace for Treasure Valley and filling up the zone is one thing that — because if you try and do too much in college it can turn to bad. Filling up the zone is one thing I focused on in college and that’s why I’ve had success.”
Now, Hough is trying to find success at the dish for the Grays, playing first and third base when he’s not pitching. His numbers haven’t been outstanding – a .211 batting average with four hits, three RBIs and a quintet of plated runs – but Hough hasn’t really needed to hit the ball in two years.
“I know at the end (of his time) at Treasure Valley he was starting to take BP and stuff. But, with his stick, it’s hard not to put him in the lineup,” Grays manager Rhys Pope said. “He can hit a ball a mile at any time. He has a lot of pop in his bat but it’s just about getting the timing down and getting the rust off.”
But Hough seems committed to do that. Pope noted that the Pocatello alum isn’t just with the Grays to simply bolster himself as a pitcher, but has been adamant that he’s willing to play anywhere at any time and “wants to be a part of the team.”
That has to be music to the ears of his old coach.
“He was a kid who if he decided to take it seriously, he’d dominate,” Benavidez said.