Helper advances in American Legion state tournament
|Jamal Lewis pitches during a home game earlier this season. Lewis has offered his pitching skills in the past few days during the state tourney in Salt Lake City. Helper has one loss and two wins thus far in the tourney. In order to capture the state title, Helper must remain undefeated throughout the remainder of the tourney.|
The Helper American Legion team started the state tournament off with a fifth inning victory over Layton last Saturday. The 14-4 win advanced Helper into the second round of the double elimination tournament where they would face Cyprus. The game was a nail bitter and came down to the wire. Unfortunately for Helper the win did not fall in their favor.
The second round game which was held Monday afternoon began with Helper scoring a run in the top of the second inning, thus advancing the team ahead of Cyprus 1-0.
The teams remained neck to neck until the fifth inning when Helper scored yet one more run. Cyprus answered this run with four of their own in the fifth. Helper then stepped up to bat in the top of the sixth and tallied two more runs to tie the ball game at 4-4.
With Cyprus entering the tournament ranked second and Helper ranked fourth in the legion standings, Monday's game was expected to be a close one, however no one expected it to be as close of a game as it turned out to be.
Entering the top of the 10th inning, the score remained tied. Helper did their best to move ahead of Cyprus, however they failed to score in the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Cyprus batter Tyson Pierce bunted a run in forcing Cyprus ahead of Helper for the 5-4 victory.
Helper would now be entered into the third round with one loss on their record. In order to advance and stay in the tournament, Helper would have to win their game against Dixie which was played Tuesday afternoon. Helper stepped up to the challenge to defeat Dixie 11-8.
The match up between Dixie and Helper turned out to be yet another tight game. By the end of the first two innings, the game was tied at six.
Travis Barnett took over pitching duties and allowed Dixie's first six runs, but by the third inning, Barnett had settled into his game and pressured Dixie's hitters, ensuring that no other runner would reach home while he was occupying the mound.
Jamal Lewis would step up to pitch for Helper in the seventh inning. Lewis allowed two runs, but that was not enough for Dixie who found themselves falling to Helper 11-8.
Kent Stilson had a successful showing for Helper in Tuesday's game against Dixie. Stilson went 3-3 and scored three runs during the third round state tourney game.
Matt Jewkes also had a big game for Helper as he went 3-4 with a double, a triple and three RBI's against Dixie.
Helper was scheduled to face Tooele Wednesday afternoon in a do-or-die game. Both teams have suffered a loss during the tourney and a second loss would send the team home.
As long as Helper remains focused, the team should have little trouble sending Tooele home without a state championship this season. Helper does have the difficult task of not losing a single game throughout the remainder of the tournament in order to capture the title for themselves. It will be a difficult task however not one which this talented team cannot accomplish.