Vikings take 6-1 preseason record into league play
|Play on Monday at the Vikings field was exciting. Here a Badger player reaches for third base as ECH player Bryant Bridge scrambles for the ball that is just barely in reach, to tag him.|
For most people in the world of sports, baseball is winding down, particularly with the possibility that the major leagues will strike at the end of the month.
For most people football is what is coming and they are excited about it regardless of their teams rankings.
For others it is volleyball season, full spikes and blocks and for girls teams across the state they are beginning to look toward the state tournament in Octorber.
For still more it is soccer time. Many of the teams in the state have already begun playing.
But for head baseball coach Todd McFarland it is just the beginning. The beginning of, what he hopes, is a state championship season for his East Carbon Viking fall baseball squad. Some in the state give his team the preseason nod at winning it all.
"Nothing counts until you play the games and win them," he said as he watched his team play the Wayne Badgers on the Vikings home field in Sunnyside on Monday afternoon.
That game, which finished after press time at the Sun Advocate, came down to the bottom of the seventh inning.
"Wayne came back and tied us up in the top of the seventh," said McFarland sitting comfortably in a chair in his family room on Tuesday afternoon.
"We got them out after that and then they walked D. J. Huitt and we had a man on base," he stated.
It was then that Preston Austin came up to bat and attempted a sacrificial bunt, but on the throw to get him out a Wayne player overthrew the Badgers first baseman and Huitt was able to advance to third and Preston made it to second.
Then Samson Leonard, took a close game and ended it with single down the middle which scored Huitt and ended the game.
Another game followed, but McFarland doesn't count that one in the record; he considered it a JV game. Nonetheless the Vikings took it to the Badgers 16-6 in that second contest on the power of 14 hits and only two errors.
The season has been strong with the team winning the Westridge Tournament, one of the best annual 1A tourneys in the state each year, with a perfect 3-0 record.
Then they went south to Panguitch to play in a tournament there, where they lost one game to the host team.
"We just played JV kids in that game while they played their first stringers," says McFarland.
So Monday's games were important and the team showed they could overcome getting caught a little flat (they had 4 errors in the first game) and the wind and rain also came through making things tough on everyone.
The Vikings pitted Tony McFarland and Andy Farlaino against the badgers from the mound. Farlaino came in during the fifth inning and made the save.
In the past two years this baseball program has lost key players in both seasons to graduation, yet continues to improve at the state level. There are a lot of bright spots, which include Preston, Leonard, Farlaino and of course the coaches son who some feel will be the baseball player of the year in the 1A leagues this year.
That's always a hard prediction to make, but based on the past two years where he made all state as a sophomore and first team last year, it could easily happen.
But one of the problems in the 1A ranks for fans is that so many games are played away from the home fields because of the distances that must be travelled. East Carbon only has two more actual home dates, on Sept. 13 against Manilla and on Sept. 27 contesting Tintic. Then with the state playoffs they will probably get the nod for a home game in the first round. They have five dates on the road, all of them double headers.
This league has no home and home series like 3A, 4A or 5A has in their leagues. That means fans either come to home games, do some big time travel or miss the games.
But now it's time for league play with a long trip to Dugway on Aug. 30 to meet the Mustangs, probably the other strongest team in Region 18.
"I expect them to be very good," says the coach. "We will have to play our best to beat them on their home field."
At the state level Valley High School will once again be very good, along with Green River and some of the private schools from along the Wasatch Front in Region 17.
Only time, and games, will tell.