Helper legion team falls short of state title
|Tony McFarland mans first base during an early season American Legion game. The Helper team recently competed in the state tourney but was sent home after two state tourney losses.|
After a season filled with ups and downs, the Helper American Legion baseball team completed their season just short of a state title.
The top 16 legion teams in the state kicked off the annual championship tournament last weekend.
Helper started off the event by competing against Bear River, a team whom many baseball fans feel could walk away with the state title.
"We just didn't show up ready to play. We had three starters break curfew the night before and were benched. The other players just didn't come to the tourney ready to win," explained Helper co-coach, Jeff Cisneros.
Bear River kicked things off with five runs in the first inning which quickly dampened the Helper's spirits.
"No one was ready for Bear River. We gave up several errors and ended up losing the first round game by the final, 11-1," Cisneros explained.
After losing their first game in the double elimination tournament, Helper was forced to compete August 4 in a loser's bracket. Their opponent would be Layton who entered the state tourney ranked first in their division.
"The guys showed up with good attitudes for this game and things worked out quite a bit differently," Cisneros indicated.
The legion teams remained deadlocked at two runs each for quite sometime, but Cisneros explained that Helper blew the doors wide open in the top of the seventh as they scored three runs. These runs allowed Helper to capture the 5-2 victory.
During this game, Tony McFarland pitched a strong game for Helper.
"McFarland really stepped up and did a good job for us. The experience was good for him as well," pointed out the Helper coach.
By escaping defeat against Layton, Helper moved on to compete Tuesday afternoon against Taylorsville.
The game kicked off with each team posting a run in the first inning. Helper then scored a second run in the bottom of the second, but it would be all down hill from here for the team.
"We opened up with six or seven hits in a row, but it was pretty early on in the ball game that we started to commit errors and just came apart," the Helper coach explained.
Chandler Pearson pitched the first five innings for Helper and did quite well. By the fifth however, Pearson was beginning to feel a bit sore. This is when Taylorsville took advantage of the situation and scored seven runs.
"Pearson did a real good job for us, but I pulled him during the fifth. There was no sense in making him continue when he wasn't feeling 100 percent," Cisneros explained.
Helper ended up losing the ball game, 11-2 and was sent home early from the state tourney.
"Our performance at state was quite reflective of our season. We suffered a lot of ups and downs and played well for one game, but fell apart the next," indicated Cisneros.
Despite falling short of a state title, the Helper legion team has completed a successful season.
"Considering that there is 46 American Legion teams in the state and only 16 of these teams go to state, I think it's an honor to be included in the elite group," concluded Cisneros.
As American Legion baseball concludes for the year, it is apparent that summer is about to an end. The cracking of the bat and the smell of hamburgers will be missed in Helper until next year.