Talk about a crap shoot. You try figuring your starting pitcher by judging how hard and from which direction the wind is blowing.
Granger Coach Mike Folster did that and named his starter by checking the wind before his team's 4A inter-regional playoff game Thursday with East at the Leopards' field.With the wind blowing out, Folster decided on senior left-hander Shane Warenski as his starter, figuring the gale would work to his advantage. But when the wind changed directions, he switched to righty Ryan Matheson and put Warenski at first base. He brought Warenski back when Matheson struggled.
Who needs pitching charts, anyway?
Folster must have known what he was doing, however, as Warenski struck out 10 Leopards and the Lancers knocked East out of the 4A tournament with an 8-7 win.
"Nobody knew who was going to start before the game. Coach decided before the game that the way the wind was blowing, it would help my curve," Warenski said. "I think the wind helped me a lot. But he said the wind would switch, and the wind switched."
Folster's a soothsayer, too. Sure enough, in the fourth inning the wind started blowing every direction, so in came Matheson to nurse an 8-4 lead.
And the Leopards took advantage. Matheson issued a walk, a single and a double, and the lead he had been staked with was cut to 8-5. Then a routine grounder by East pitcher Mark Wankier took a bad hop that second baseman Tyler Wilder couldn't handle allowing two more runs to score cutting it to 8-7.
After another East single, back came Warenski to snuff out the rally.
"This was a game we knew we could win. We'd scouted East for a long time," Warenski said. "With the wind blowing in, it really helped my knuckleball. It would get to the plate and drop off the table."
Granger exploded for seven runs in the top of the third to take control. Wankier opened by walking Craig Van Woerkom. Wankier was then called for a balk, which seemed to rattle him as he issued two more walks to load the bases for Ryan Lowther, who roped a three-run triple to deep left field for the damaging blow.
After a dozen inter-region games this week, the fields are set for the 4A and 3A state tourneys.
Both tournaments will run from Monday to Friday, but sites have been changed of late. The recent re-sodding of Derks Field makes it unavailable this year. Instead, the 4A tournament will be played in its entirety at Ken Price Park in Murray.
The scheduling for the 3A tournament is more complex, with Monday and Tuesday's four games being divided between BYU and Spanish Fork. Wednesday's games will be at BYU; Thursday and Friday games will join the 4A slate for full-day baseball action at Ken Price Park.
The 16-team inter-region format doesn't give the region champions a bye, but the four - Roy, Hillcrest, Taylorsville and Bountiful - all won in playoffs this week to advance.
Monday's first-round pairings are: Roy vs. Cyprus, 11:30 a.m.; Hillcrest vs. Granger, 2 p.m.; 1988 runner-up Taylorsville vs. West Jordan, 4:30 p.m.; and defending 4A champion Bountful vs. Brighton, 7 p.m.
The top-seed teams from the four leagues - Ogden, Murray, Pine View and Springville - earned byes and automatic berths in the eight-team tournament. Advancing in inter-region games were Timpview, West, Cedar City and Spanish Fork.
Leading the slate of Monday's first-round games is a rematch of the 1988 3A title contest, with defending champion Spanish Fork meeting '88 runner-up Murray at 4 p.m. in Spanish Fork, with the Ogden-Cedar game preceding. The games at BYU feature Pine View taking on Timpview and Springville playing West.