LPHS baseball opens with a win
Big Horns introduced on game day to grass, fly balls and long-toss; Varsity double-header on day two
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
It may have been junior varsity, but a W is a W.
On Thursday, April 6, the Lone Peak High School baseball team drove to Columbus to become another first-time high school baseball team in Montana’s inaugural season. It was also the first outdoor baseball of the season for the Big Horns, who have been forced to practice in the gym due to snow. Also, with Lone Peak’s production of “Cinderella,” the Big Horns took the field without one-third of their 21 players. Expecting nothing but a chance to play real baseball, coach John McGuire said everyone had a blast all day, describing it to EBS as “a fantastic success.”
The varsity team played first, and McGuire said it was competitive for three innings against a Columbus Cougars team with two games under their belt already. Junior Aidan Germain took the bump for the Big Horns, and coach Matt Morris pointed out that it was his first time throwing on a mound—or anything except a flat gym floor. He said the pitching improved every inning.
“The guys made some plays,” McGuire said. “We were right there in that game. Really proud of our guys.”
The Big Horns scored a couple runs early, Morris told EBS. Sophomore Walker Bagby hit an RBI single and freshman Oliver McGuire hit a double. When the game started, Morris recalled, “we looked at each other and said, ‘we can compete with these guys, and we could win.’”
Baserunning errors at third base limited the Big Horns’ early impact, and the Cougars eventually rallied with a fourth inning that included a three-run homer. The Big Horns fell 13-3 by mercy rule.
“It was hard to expect much from these guys even though they’ve been putting in the work,” Morris said. “Absolutely impressed and blown away by the skill and ability we showed… A lot of the fundamentals we’ve been working on paid off.”
With only 14 players, McGuire said the Big Horns’ young core played for both JV and varsity on Thursday. Eighth-grader Sid Morris started for JV, eventually earning the win with support from freshman Ebe Grabow, who went three-for-three.
The Big Horns junior varsity squad won 9-5, which McGuire noted as the first win in LPHS baseball history.
McGuire said it was great to see all 14 players contribute across both games, and both coaches emphasized the joy of playing baseball outside.
“Yesterday we showed up and got on some grass for the first time,” Morris said. “Able to long toss, little sun in the eyes, all the fun baseball things that we should be dealing with… It was real baseball, so it made me excited. We were able to hit some fly balls to these guys, they were able to run the bases, round the corners and work on some real baseball stuff.”
Four days before game day, the Big Horns’ coaching staff emailed the Columbus coaches, expecting to hear back that their field isn’t ready yet. The surprising response was that the fields drain pretty well, and they should be good to go.
It ended up being a beautiful day, McGuire said. “With the sun, it ended up being a perfect day for baseball.”
He said the Cougars were great hosts and clearly did a lot of work to get the field ready.
“They had a good crowd, dozens of fans,” he said. “We had some Big Horn faithful.”
Day two double-header
On Friday morning, the Big Horns hopped back on the bus for a trip to Laurel High School, which volunteered to host LPHS games against Belgrade and Sidney high schools—Belgrade’s Medina Field remains snowed in.
After the final performance of “Cinderella,” McGuire said the team would be close to full-strength, aside from a few players gone for spring break.
The Big Horns began at noon against a familiar foe—Big Sky kids grew up as a plus-one team in Belgrade’s little league and Babe Ruth league. The Panthers played strong baseball, as McGuire expected from a program forced to cut players during tryouts, resulting in a decisive loss for the Big Horns.
At 2 p.m., the Big Horns faced the Sidney Eagles, an unfamiliar foe from eastern Montana.
The Big Horns faced another unfortunate defeat. McGuire opted not to disclose the scores from Friday’s double-header.
The team will return to the gym, but the incoming stretch of warm weather might mean outdoor practices on the turf in the near future. Barring a stretch of cold and snowy weather, Big Sky Community Park could be ready for practices and a few home games by season’s end.