GRANITE FALLS — There may a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for the Sultan baseball team. After dropping their first nine games of the season, the Turks have now won two straight after a 5-4 win over Granite Falls on Friday.
Joey Crawford went 2-for-3 with a key two-run double in Sultan’s four-run second inning. Steven Branham also had two hits and made a savvy baserunning play to score what turned out to be the game-winning run in the seventh. All-in-all, Turks coach Steve Leverett has seen a significant improvement in his young team.
“We still make some mistakes, but we’re playing better on both sides of the ball and they’re giving me a whole game now, not just an inning here and an inning there,” said Leverett.
Tyler Hamilton went 2-for-3 with two RBI, Riley Larsen doubled twice and Junior Russell added two hits for the Tigers.
Hamilton tripled in the bottom of the first and scored on an James Barnard’s RBI groundout to get the Granite Falls on the board. But the Turks rallied with four straight hits in the second. Kolton Anderson’s single tied the game and Crawford’s double, his first hit of the year, scored two. Jay Leverett capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to give the Turks a 4-1 lead.
After Granite Falls crept closer on an RBI double from Larsen in the third and Russell’s run-scoring single in the fourth, Branham made a play in the seventh that Steve Leverett simply described as “amazing.”
Branham was on second when Shawn Smith hit a slow roller right down the third-base line. The Tigers third baseman decided to let it roll, expecting the ball to go foul. Instead the ball stayed fair, hopping directly over the base at third. Branham decided to go home and avoided James Barnard’s tag to score.
“Their shortstop made a great play and made it close at home, but it just didn’t quite get there,” said Steve Leverett. “Branham is the fastest player on the team and that was a heads-up play by him, taking initiative. It was quite an amazing turn of events.”
Branham’s run provided to be the deciding one after Hamilton hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
At Granite Falls H.S.
Jay Leverett and Matt Baller. Alex O’Neill, Greg Barnett (3) and James Barnard. WP—Leverett. LP—O’Neill. 2B—Riley Larsen (GF) 2, Junior Russell (GF), Joey Crawford (S). 3B—Tyler Hamilton (GF). Records—Sultan 2-8 league, 2-9 overall. Granite Falls 1-7, 1-9.