Not an easy day for Carbon
|Garret Schmitz covers home plate as a Snow Canyon runner slides into the Dino catcher.|
Few Carbon High fans can forget the elation that filled the community two years ago this month when the Dinos came back from St. George late one Saturday night accompanied through town by emergency vehicles with the sirens wailing and lights flashing. The team had just won it's first state baseball championship in 50 years.
Few Carbon fans can forget how the final championship game went either. A balk call by a game official gave the Dinos the win over a very strong Snow Canyon team, the only team other than the Dinos that had been ranked number one any time during that season.
Few who were there can forget how the Snow Canyon fans chased the officials into the concessions bar where they were locked up until escorts arrived to take them to safety. People in the southwestern Washington County town of Santa Clara have been talking about that defeat every since. Some were heard to even mention it Saturday morning when the Warriors were defeating Tooele at the College of Eastern Utah baseball field 5-0.
Painful defeats seem to stay in memories a long time, and it was pretty obvious on Saturday afternoon, after the Warriors had advanced to face Carbon on their home field after they had won their first round game in the morning against Park City, 9-2, that the memory of that state championship game was still a raw sore. Sometimes sores fester and make the protagonist weak. In this case it was a pure and simple case of rage as the kids from the south beat up the proud Dinos 17-1 in the worst defeat a Carbon baseball team has seen in a very long time.
That's the bad news. The good news is that despite the shellacking the Dinos took, they are still headed to the state tournament in Ogden this week, facing Dixie (15-7, after losing to Bear River 6-5 in the first game in Tremonton Saturday and beating Wasatch that afternoon 13-2 to advance) on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Fremont High School.
Luckily for the Dinos it was the new format, with double elimination moving into the first round instead of the "do or die" games they faced in the first round in the past years, that has sent them off to Weber County.
Based on past years brackets, in the old regime, the Dinos would have faced Snow Canyon in that single game.
But the win over Park City on Saturday morning meant the trip would happen. The Miners had defeated the Dinos in a non-league game just a couple of weeks ago, but their memories were apparently short.
They also had not faced Troy Grundy that day. Probably the best single pitcher in all of school boy baseball in Utah this year, Grundy destroyed Park City's offense, while the other Dinos feasted on the Miner's starting pitchers throws.
The Dinos scored in every inning, except the fourth, jumping out 2-0 in the first inning and never looking back. Grundy struck out 13 batters, giving up only two hits, one of which was a home run by Park City's Jason Morgan. Carbon had batters all over the bases in this one, with Tommy Larson driving in three runs and doubles by Cory Olsen and Grundy.
It's hard to put a finger on why the afternoon contest went so different. No one on Carbon's team expected Snow Canyon to be easy to beat, but no one expected what they saw either. As players and coaches watched the Warrior's Adam Parr throw his pitches, almost no one could believe they weren't hitting some of them. On the other side of the game, almost no one could believe the hot bats the Washington County players had either.
Jamal Lewis started as pitcher for the Dinos and faced some big hitting from the first pitch. However, after the Warriors jumped off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, his throwing and the Dinos team defense kept the opposition from scoring any more until the fifth inning when a Lewis pitch was smacked into left field and bounced over the fence, scoring two runs from those already on base. Then on the next pitch, another Snow Canyon hitter drove a fly into right field and it took another bounce sending two more runners across home plate.
At that point Carbon coach Lane Herrick went out to the mound and put left-hander Mike Smith into throw. He had barely begun when the Warriors belted another hit in. And the hits just kept coming.
Carbon finally scored a run in the bottom of the sixth and felt they still had a chance, even behind 8-1. But the top of the seventh inning was a disaster for the Dinos. Snow Canyon, with a dramatic lead, probably could have backed off, but they apparently couldn't ignore that open sore. They poured it on, and continued to pound Carbon amassing nine runs in the inning before their outs ran dry.
Carbon, facing a 16 run lead on their home field, valiantly tried to come back, but the deficit had taken at least some of their spirit.
Carbon is now in the second round losers, single elimination bracket. They have to win to move on, or the season is over.