Pehrson red hot for Larks
Cameron Pehrson said he experienced some highs and lows in his shortened first college baseball season at Cochise College in Arizona.
“All-in-all, not the season I wanted, but that’s why we come to summer ball to work on stuff and be better for next year,” Pehrson said.
Pehrson appears to be making the most of that opportunity, enjoying a red-hot stretch for the Hays Larks.
Pehrson was 9 of 14 at the plate over the Larks’ last three games heading into Thursday night’s game with the Boulder Collegians.
In Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Collegians, Pehrson went 2 for 3 with a home run and double.
“It feels great,” Pehrson said. “Honestly, it’s just nice being back in the swing of things, playing baseball again. I’m fortunate that I’m performing really well and it’s just clicking for me right now.”
This past Sunday, Pehrson, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., enjoyed one of the Larks’ best days at the plate so far this summer. He went 4 for 7 with two home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in seven runs in a 20-0 rout of the Collegians.
“He’s really locked in,” Larks manager Frank Leo said. “Barreling a lot of baseballs. The ball is jumping off his bat.”
Unlike some college players, Pehrson actually got a good chunk of the season in last spring. Cochise played 29 games before the pandemic hit.
Pehrson primarily plays third base and shortstop, “but growing up I played all over the place,” Pehrson said.
That versatility has been on display with the Larks. He’s played infield, outfield and even filled in at catcher mid-game earlier this summer after an injury to Max McGuire.
“I loved it,” Pehrson said. “I was having a great time back there.”
Pehrson said it took him a little while to adjust to summer ball, but he feels comfortable now.
“It takes a little while to get used to all the pitching and things like that, because these are good teams that we’re playing with a lot of good pitchers,” Pehrson said. “It just takes time. It’s like riding a bike.”
“Everyone’s definitely heating up, so it’s fun,” Pehrson added.
All nine hitters in the Larks’ lineup had at least one hit Wednesday as the Larks began a seven-game home stand.
Matt Cavanagh had three hits to lead the Larks’ 14-hit attack.
Larks starter Drew Buhr gave up two runs in five innings, while Wyatt Divis held the Collegians scoreless over the last four innings to nail down the win.
“I thought it was a very good, clean game for us,” Leo said. “We pitched it well, we had key hits. They challenged us a little bit early; the pitcher kept us off stride. I thought when we needed to get key at-bats, we got them.”
The Larks (9-4) were kept off the board for the first three innings by Boulder pitcher Shane Cavallo. Corbin Truslow put the Larks on the board to make it a 2-1 game in the fourth with an RBI single, before Hays seized control with a three-run fifth.
In the fifth, the Larks loaded the bases with three straight singles from Cavanagh, Sean Cooper and Leo Jiminian. Grant Lung put Hays in front with a two-run single and the Larks got another run out of a groundball double play with the bases loaded to push the lead to 4-2.
“That first pitcher, he was pretty good,“ Pehrson said. ”He kept us off our toes, kept us off balance. Just took the second time coming around, that’s when we started finding the barrel, drawing walks. Barrels here and there lead to runs.“
Pehrson homered to left field in the sixth inning and the Larks added two more runs in the frame thanks to an RBI single from Jiminian and a bases-loaded walk from Divis.
Divis gave up two hits and no walks in his three innings of work. Leo said the Larks plan to keep using Divis in a relieving role while also putting him in the lineup.
“We try to utilize his DH capability,” Leo said. “We’ll probably take him out of a starting (pitching) role, let him DH and we’ll kind of have him split games with guys (on the mound).”
Leo said he was encouraged by Jiminian’s outing on Wednesday. The leadoff hitter had two key hits.
“I thought he was very patient tonight,” Leo said. “On the road trip, a little bit, he was getting impatient. He’s got to get on bases for us because he makes things happen.”
The Larks were coming off a 3-3 road trip last week in Colorado.
“It’s good to be back home,” Leo said. “Six days on the road in Colorado was a long haul. It was good to be back before our fans. I thought we played a really good ballgame tonight.”
“Real big homestand,” Leo added. “The season’s going quick. We just got to keep playing it one game at a time. You got to take care of business at home. They say play .500 on the road if you want to have a chance. We should have done better than that on the road, but we did play .500. Now we need to take care of business here at home.”
The Larks were set to play the Collegians again on Thursday and Friday at Larks Park before welcoming in the Colorado Sox for games on Saturday and Sunday.