Helper finishes third at State Tournament
Tooele denies Helper a shot at championship game with two tough defeats
In a tournament setting, playing doubleheaders on hot and muggy afternoons is one of the many obstacles teams must overcome if they want to be state champions. For the Helper American Legion Baseball team, a long grueling season may just have caught up to them in the end.
Helper completed a long season with an 11-8 defeat in nine innings to Tooele. The loss left Helper with a third place finish which matches their finish from a year ago.
Tooele advanced to the championship series where they were defeated by Stansbury.
Helper head coach Jeff Cisneros said his team could have given up and called it a season but they didn't want to go down without a fight.
"We could have called it quits and just got our butts kicked out there, but the guys fought back and didn't quit," Cisneros said. "Pitching at this time of the year gets short for everyone in the tournament and it did for us."
Tooele beat Helper 8-6 last Tuesday which sent Helper into the losers bracket. The loss was especially tough for Helper after they ran out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first inning. Not fazed by the large deficit, Tooele battled back and tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the second inning. The Tooele offense did just enough over the rest of the game while the pitching held Helper in check for the win.
Facing elimination, Helper defeated West Jordan 12-7 on Wednesday afternoon. Dakota Cisneros pitched six strong innings and the Helper offense got on the board with a barrage of runs including a bases loaded double by Ridge Nielson.
With the win over West Jordan, Helper advanced to play Taylorsville in a nine-inning game. Backed by seven innings from pitcher Tyson Roper, Helper defeated Taylorsville 9-4 to set up another game with Tooele. Nielson had another strong game with two doubles and a triple. Derek Young added a few hits to help get Helper the win.
In the final game against Tooele, Cisneros said the team was dealing with fatigue with their pitching rotation. He called upon Colton Greener, who played on the USU Eastern Prep team, to start the game. Greener pitched three innings allowing no runs but Tooele broke through in the fourth. Facing a 6-0 deficit, Helper finally got their offense going as they scored five runs to cut the Tooele lead to 6-5. Unfortunately for Helper, they could get no closer. Tooele scored runs over the next few innings while keeping Helper from starting any rallies en route to their 11-8 win over Helper.
"Tooele just kept hitting the ball all game long against us," Cisneros said noting Tooele had a roster of older players with a lot of experience.
Despite the tough ending to their season, Helper has plenty to be proud of. They finished third at state and despite their struggles on the road, they went undefeated at home while playing at the Carbon High and USU Eastern ballfields.
"I believed we had an opportunity to win the whole thing this year with this team," Cisneros said. "I'm really proud of their effort and how they played all year long."