Conditions made wacky by gusting winds over a grassless field at Many Farms High contributed Wednesday to a 30-1 rout by visiting Page and a new state home run record.
Page’s baseball team hit 12 home runs, nine of them inside the park, in winds believed to gust more than 60 mph. Dirt and sand blew so hard that outfielders lost track of fly balls, the game had to be delayed multiple times and players wrapped T-shirts around their faces to block the biting sand.
“We’d play two minutes, and the umpires would stop the game for three minutes to get the dust to stop,” said manager Alex Randel of the aptly named Sand Devils. “We couldn’t see the center fielder or left fielder from the dugout. They were covered in dust.”
Tyler Janes, Page’s speedy shortstop, matched a state record for home runs in a game by hitting four. He drove in eight runs and would have set a new mark for round-trippers if a double did not skip through an outfielder’s legs for a two-base error.
Page (9-7) scored 17 runs in the third inning to break it open. Carson Wright went 4 for 5 with a double and homer, Steven Christie was 3 for 5 with four RBIs and three home runs, Waylon Black homered twice and was 3 for 5 and sophomore Noah Larson, known as “Mr. One Thousand,” saw his season-opening streak of five hits end with an error by the shortstop in his first at-bat.
In spite of a dust storm warning with winds expected to gust to 50 mph, the game was moved up a day by Many Farms. The Lobos (4-3) are playing in a tournament this week and wanted an extra day, Randel said.
Randel said the forecast was updated to call for gusts in excess of 60 mph. Conditions seemed to match the forecast, and noticing the Many Farms field had no grass, he suggested a change of venue to nearby Chinle. The offer was declined and the game commenced.
“I’ve never seen a field like it anywhere,” said Randel, an Oregon native in his fifth year at Page and fourth as manager.
Not wanting his players to inhale a lot of dust and get sick, Randel said he brought painter’s masks for dugout use. Some innovative players took T-shirts and wrapped them around their faces, for a ninja-like look, Randel said.
Weatherunderground.com reported steady winds blowing at Chinle at 31 mph from the south-southwest during the game. Randel figured gusts were “definitely 65 miles an hour, it was really blowing hard” across the diamond to the left.
Page hitters circled the bases on three or four other shots that were bobbled into errors. Three or four of the home runs were never seen by outfielders.
“We were just hitting shots into gaps and we were just running,” Randel said.
Randel said he “shut down everything” else, including the Sand Devils’ running game. Page set a Division III/Class 3A state mark by stealing 18 bases at Chinle on March 11.
“But you can’t tell my guys not to hit,” he said.
Randel said it would be easy to conclude, “Yeah, sweet, we got a record,” but wondered if it would have happened in other weather conditions and on a different field.
Pitcher Collin Knight went three innings, allowing an earned run, two walks and two hit batters. He struck out six. Christie came on for the fourth and final inning.
The conditions sparked memories of a 34-1 Page win at Chinle in 2002. High winds contributed to the first 15 Page hitters scoring and the first 17 reaching. Page’s Mark Gustaveson homered on the game’s first pitch.
The all-time state mark for home runs in a game by a team had been 10, set by Salpointe Catholic (Tucson) against Catalina Magnet (Tucson) in 2012. The record for 3A was seven, hit by Payson in 1998 against Fountain Hills, according to aiaonline.org.
Eight players, including Janes, now hold the individual record for homers in a game. The 3A record-holders starting the day were Joe Haley of Glendale against Litchfield Park in 1939 and Zach Winn of Show Low against Round Valley (Springerville) in 2013.
ELIZABETH (Colo.) 3,
LEWIS-PALMER (Colo.) 4
With two more games in the Coach Bob National Invitational, the Coconino Panthers split against a pair of Colorado schools at Sandra Day O’Connor High School Wednesday.
In the first game against Elizabeth High School, the Panthers struggled to produce much offense with senior Wes Cody taking the loss on the mound. Both runs in the game were driven in by senior Fritz Plecas, who went 1 for 3 in the first game.
Against Lewis-Palmer High School, senior Diego Johnson finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs to help senior Bryan Chapin earn the win. Chapin also finished 1 for 3 with a triple and an RBI. Plecas drove in another run in the second game of the day, finishing 1 for 4.
Coconino returns home for a 3:30 p.m. start against Winslow High School on Friday.
The Northland Prep Spartans finished second with a team score of 202 at Antelope Hill Golf Course in a four-school match hosted by Chino Valley High School.
Braxton Hibbert led the Spartans with a score of 45 and Vincent Cortese finished one shot back with a score of 46. Kingman Academy High School took first place as a team with score of 189, led by individual winner Rapheal Choi at 40.
Chris Heinrich finished with a 55 and both Chris Wilson and Clay McDaniel finished with scores of 56 on the day.
Sun Sports Staff contributed to this roundup.