Orem’s Taylor Gill didn’t get a junior season due to COVID-19 but has been a mainstay for the Tigers since his freshman year. With college athletes being granted an additional season because of the pandemic, roster spots at the next level are at a premium.
Somebody needs to find a spot for Gill.
The senior shortstop went 2 for 3 with a double and a home run against Mountain View on Tuesday as Orem held off the Bruins 10-7 to start off Region 7 with a 2-0 record.
“At the end of the day, region is still region,” Tigers coach Carl Hermansen said. “We’ve got three teams in Orem and we want to beat each other. The RPI will take care of itself but our goal is that we want to win region, and it’s stacked. We’ve got a lot of really good teams.”
Gill doubled in a run in the first, then hit a towering two-run shot to deep center in the second to help spot the Tigers to an early 7-1 advantage.
“He’s a special player,” Hermansen said. “When we moved down here, he and my son (Dane) started to play together and you could see his talent really quick. I’ve been fortunate to see it firsthand since he was 11 years old and I could see what he was going to become. He’s matured and blossomed. I’m sure there are guys as good as he is but there aren’t many better in the state. It’s kind of a shame because not a lot of people know about him. He’s worked hard.”
Mountain View responded from a 15-1 beating at the hands of Orem on Monday with an inspired effort, battling back from that 7-1 deficit and pulling to within two, 9-7, after a two-run single by Liam Hone in the sixth.
Gill walked, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Trey Wilson’s fielder’s choice in the top of the sixth for a 10-7 Tigers lead. Reliever Bryant Sakamaki got a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the victory for starter Clayton Burke, who threw the first five innings.
Hermansen said Gill has some college options but most teams are still juggling their rosters for 2022.
“It’s hard,” Hermansen said. “You talk to these coaches and they want him, but they’ve got 35 guys on their roster. Taylor has talked to a lot of teams but they just aren’t sure what they have coming back next year. He’s got some good offers and I think he’ll find something. We’ll see what happens, but he’s fun to watch.”
Gill drove in three runs and scored three more on Tuesday.
“COVID hurt a lot of players,” Gill said. “A lot of kids should be playing at the next level but just aren’t. Missing a junior year is a big part of high school baseball, especially if you want to play in college. It’s rough. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do but at least I have some options. I’m very grateful.”
Kadence Johnson and Hone both had two hits for Mountain View (0-5 Region 7, 2-9 overall).
Dane Hermansen also drove in three runs for Orem, which moved to 6-3 overall.
“We have a lot of young kids playing varsity,” Gill said. “I have a lot of confidence in this team. I love playing baseball so I’m happy to be out here.”
The two teams will finish their three-game series on Wednesday at Mountain View.