Cubs put A’s to zzzzzz’s early

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The young Dillon Cubs experienced their first growth spurt of the young baseball season on Sunday at Ray Lynch Park in Dillon.

And it was a double-doozy.

“I was very happy with our progression from Week 1 to Week 2,” asserted rookie Cubs Head Coach Zach McRae, whose team won Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader opener, 25-3, over the Anaconda A’s before completing the sweep with a 6-2 victory in the night cap.

“I think we learned a lot of lessons up in the Bitterroot,” said McRae, whose tenure as Cubs head coach began with his team getting out of the wrong side of the den the previous weekend in a a pair of loses in a season-opening doubleheader at the Bitterroot Bucs in Florence.

“We got to see where we were and then went about making adjustments,” said McRae, a star in his Cubs playing days.

“In our first games over in the Bitterroot, we had no aggression—we were just flat. So, we said, no matter what, we were going to stay aggressive today,” stated Sawyer Tackett, who carried a big stick Sunday, collecting four hits, six runs and two RBIs from the leadoff spot.

“The thing I was most pleased with was our general aggression—whether it was on the mound throwing a lot of strikes, or on the basepaths making the aggressive decisions or at the plate,” said McRae, after watching his team score 31 runs in just six innings of batting opportunities Sunday, when the Cubs pounded out two dozen hits.

“Last week, we had 11 backwards Ks,” recalled McRae of all the times his hitters went down looking in their largely passive showing against the Bucs.

“If we’re going to learn, we have to learn aggressively. If we go down, it better be going down swinging,” vowed McRae, whose team batted around and then came within a batter of orbiting its lineup again before getting retired out of the opening game’s opening frame Sunday.

“I was really happy they just kept going. You can’t look at the scoreboard,” said McRae, who got at least a hit, a run or RBI from each of his starters in the mercy-rule shortened rout.

The first half-dozen hitters in that Cubs lineup—Tackett, Conner Vezina, Kale Konen, Anthony Macias, Tyler Lagunas and Cohen Hartman—proved especially potent, combining for 17 hits, 18 runs and 19 RBIs, in just the first game.

Dillon seemed on its way to another lopsided win in Sunday’s second game, but it got cut short when the A’s lost a player to injury, reducing their travelling roster to just eight men and the game to only two and a third innings.

The Cubs got good efforts from their starting pitchers Sunday, when Anthony Macias earned the W in the opener, yielding just a single hit and one earned run.

“I like Anthony’s pace on the mound. I like how he’s commanding under his own time frame,” said McRae of his senior southpaw, who recorded eight strikeouts in just four innings before Andrew Bartlome closed out the W with an inning on the mound.

“He’s just got a lot of movement on his fastball,” said McRae of Macias, who has developed from a change-of-pace long reliever to a powerful opening day starter on the mound and cleanup hitter during his years with the Cubs.

“I just practiced my mechanics and try to be technical with everything. And definitely lifting weights and doing bands and arm workouts has helped,” said Macias, who during his Cubs career got forced to spend a year in the dugout while recovering from a rotator cuff tear.

“I remember the first Cubs game I pitched in. I’m pretty sure I threw just two or three strikes. The rest were balls, Honestly, I was not good,” recalled Macias of his Cubs debut last decade.

“Coach McRae has been working hard with us, and definitely making us better.”

Tackett moved to the mound for the second game, going the abbreviated distance, and like Macias, credited catcher Conner Vezina for his effort.

“Conner caught both games,” said Tackett of the Cubs new starting catcher, who went 5 for 5 with 5 RBIs in the first game Sunday.

“I think he did really well,” added the eighth grader, with an assessment that could apply to the entire team on Sunday.

“I thought we hit a lot better today than we did the first two games.”