Helper American Legion team places third in state tournament
|An American Legion batter comes home to a supportive team after homering in a previous contest. |
After winning their opening game with Beaver the Helper American Legion team had to set its sights against the top team in the tournament as they resumed play on Monday August 6. The Smithfield team combines Smithfield, Logan, Mountain Crest and Idaho players. Their record coming into the tournament was 43-1. They played mostly up north so many of the teams in the tournament had not had a chance to see them in action. Helper could not get their bats going and lost to them, 8-0. Kyler Edgehouse pitched a good game but had no offensive support.
Smithfield not only beat Helper with their bats, but in their solid defense. A few diving catches took the little bit of Carbon offense right back out of the game. Coach Cisneros felt they were the best defensive team they had seen all year. The loss dropped Helper into the loser's bracket. Another loss meant a trip home.
Tuesday August 7. Helper took on Granger. During the season the two teams had split a double header. Helper took the rubber game when it counted with a 6-0 win to stay alive, Granger went home.Tyler Turcasso pitched six and a third innings of great ball and got the win. He threw a five hitter and also got some great defensive help.
Aaron Sandoval started the game with a triple and scored the first run on a ground out by Trevor Thompson. They added three more runs in the second inning on back to back doubles by Marcus Zaccaria and Brady Wilde. A single by Edgehouse and back to back singles by Sandoval and JD Sherman provided the scoring in the second. One more run was put up in each of the fifth and seventh innings. JJ Blue doubled and scored on a single by Zaccaria in the fifth. Sherman scored the final run in the last inning. Jordan Moynier came on in relief for the final two outs of the game.
Box Elder was next up on Wednesday. Helper had defeated them earlier in the year in a tournament in Idaho. Brett Johnson picked up his second win in the tournament with a two hit, complete game. He struck out 14 and pitched his best game of the year holding down a very good Box Elder team that had defeated West the day before, 12-8.
Helper got their scoring started in the second inning putting two runs on the board. They added four more in the third on a single by Thompson. This was followed by doubles by Blue and Zaccaria and Edgehouse. In the fourth inning, a two run homer by Blue added to the total. One more in the fifth and two more in the seventh inning sealed the 11-0 win over Box Elder.
The good news was that Helper was still alive and playing well, the bad news was that Smithfield was back for another shot at them on Thursday. Smithfield had lost to Kearns and then beaten Tooele to set up the rematch.
The underdog team from Helper stepped it up and sent Smithfield packing with a 4-3 win . Edgehouse pitched all nine innings. He struck out 12, none of which was bigger than the strike out of Smithfield's best hitter in the eighth inning with bases loaded and two outs.
Helper drew first blood with a run in the second inning on a walk to Zaccaria and an error on Smithfield. Helper added another in the third on a triple by Sandoval and single from Sherman. Smithfield tied it up in the third. Each team added a run in the fourth. Blake Mortensen doubled to score Brady Wilde in that inning.
Both teams then went scoreless until the eighth inning. It was Helper that broke the tie as Wilde was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by Moynier. Mortensen once again came through with a two out double that put Helper on top for good. Smithfield loaded the bases in the eighth on a double and two walks, but Edgehouse got Smithfield's best hitter Jake Bartholomew to strike out with the bases loaded. Edgehouse shut them down in the ninth and came a way with a great 4-3 victory.
|American Legion pitching was a big part of their impressive third place finish in the annual state tournament. |
Cisneros summed up the game, "Not many people gave us a chance to beat Smithfield, but we knew if we played our caliber of baseball and got help from everyone that we had a chance. All year I have preached teamwork and trusting one another to this team. This was the win that signified all that hard work as we played a complete game."
Guaranteed at least third, the team moved on to play Kearns on Friday night. Kearns had drawn a bye Thursday night because they were the only undefeated team left in the tournament. Cyprus eliminated St. George Thursday night. This left only Kearns, Cyprus and Helper left in the tourney. Cyprus had one loss and received a bye on Friday night.
With another do or die game on Friday the team knew going in that it would take a tremendous effort to beat Kearns. Kearns had dominated teams all season. Even with their best effort, Helper still came up short, 15-3. Even using five pitchers to try and slow down Kearns, it was not enough to quiet the tremendous offense that they had shown all year.
Kearns opened the scoring with six runs in the second inning. They added one more in the fourth to take a 7-0 lead.
Helper did not give in. Trying to stay in the game, they scored three in the fourth on a pair of doubles by Thompson and Zaccaria. They had a great chance in the fifth inning when they had the bases loaded and no outs. But the Kearns pitcher buckled down and struck out the next three hitters. That disappointment seemed to take the air out of Helepr. They could never recover and allowed Kearns to score eight more runs over the next two innings to complete the game by the final of 15-3. With the loss Helper was eliminated from the tourney, finishing in third place.
Cisneros could not say enough about the pride he had in his team, " I'm very proud of the way my team competed and finished the season. To finish in the top three again this year is quite an accomplishment. We did not play our best ball day in and day out all summer long, but we put it together again when it matters most. We finished the season with an overall record of 20-12. We finished 10-8 in the SLV league and were the fifth place team from the valley in the tournament. In the tournament we beat the #1 seed from the South, which was Beaver and also the #1 seed from the north, which was Smithfield."
He continued, "A great run once again through the tourney put us back in familiar standings finishing in the top three for the fourth time in the last 6 years. This group of kids never quit and should be proud of their accomplishments this year. We received great pitching and defense all tournament long and this once again propelled us to finish as high as we did. It makes me very proud to see how well the boys from Carbon and Emery counties have represented this area over the last 10 years. When you can compete with teams that are combining schools with combined enrollments of almost 5,000, it says a lot for the heart and dedication these boys show year in and year out. I'm only sorry that the season had to end, but I look forward to the next one starting. By the way Kearns beat Cyprus 20-3 in the championship game."