LOUISVILLE — Even in defeat on Thursday morning, the Monarch Coyotes summer baseball club couldn't help but look positively at where they stand after Day 2 of the Boulder National Invitational Tournament.
After going 2-0 on Wednesday, the Coyotes fell 5-3 to the Idaho Fall Bandits in the early morning game on Thursday. Remaining in contention for a wild card berth into bracket play and flirting with an upset against one of the tournament favorites, however, softened the blow considerably.
"We've made a lot of improvements over the season and those guys are really good," Coyotes outfielder Connor Crouch said. "I thought we played our hearts out and the energy was better than it has been all summer so I thought we did well."
Crouch, who will be a junior at Monarch High in the fall, accounted for three of the Coyotes' five hits on Thursday. After a rough June, Crouch said many of the Coyotes received a wake-up call when head coach Scott Weiss brought up several younger age group players so they could see face-to-face who was threatening to take their spots.
Soon-to-be senior Roy Grigsby's job is most likely safe, especially after the start he turned in against the Bandits.
Facing a Bandits lineup that put up 16 runs on a stout UA PRIME, Grigby allowed just four earned runs while holding the Bandits to five total over six innings. The tall right-hander allowed eight hits through the first three innings before settling in to give up just two more over his final three.
"They're a good team that can hit anything you throw but I felt good and my infield obviously did a great job of making every play that they could so I'm happy with it," Grigsby said. "My changeup was just not working through the first three innings and I kept having to go to fastball. But after the third, my changeup was really working and that helped keep them off balance."
The Coyotes defense did make several key plays, including a double play with a runner at third that ended the first. But a key hit or two eluded the lineup, which left the bases loaded in the second and seventh innings.
On Day 1, the Coyotes won 13-11 against Littleton High School and 8-6 against Bryan High School. They will play their final pool play game at 9 a.m. on Friday against UA PRIME. Winning that game should position them for a wild card.
"I'm super proud of my team for how they've played against some very talented baseball teams," Weiss said. "I think we've competed really, really well. We'll get after it tomorrow and see if we can find our way into the bracket."
Idaho Falls Bandits 5, Monarch Coyotes 3
At Monarch H.S.
Bandits 012 101 0 — 5 11 0
Coyotes 000 111 0 — 3 5 1
W — Bialas.
Bandits hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Virgil 4-1-1-0, Taylor 4-1-2-0, Jones 2-0-2-1, Bialas 4-0-2-1, Alexander 4-1-2-0, Whitehead 4-0-0-0, Leavitt 3-1-0-0, Tibbitts 2-0-2-2, Witbeck 3-1-0-0, Patterson 0-0-0-0, Mecham 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-5-11-4. 2B — Alexander, Tibbitts, Bialas. SB — Witbeck.
Coyotes hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rodriguez 4-0-1-1, Morris 3-0-0-0, Flynn 4-0-0-0, Cole 1-1-0-0, Sibley 1-1-0-0, Crouch 4-0-3-1, Harrington 3-0-1-1, Flaska 1-0-0-0, Dekker 1-0-0-0, Coatney 2-1-0-0. Totals 24-3-5-3. 2B — Rodriguez, Crouch. SB — Coatney.
Bandits pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Bialas 6-5-3-3-5-12, Gregersen 0.2-0-0-0-2-0, Alexander 0.1-0-0-0-1-1.
Coyotes pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Grigsby 6-10-5-4-2-4, Sibley 1-1-0-0-1-0.