Juan Diego Repeats for State 2A Title at Gardner
|Parowan players show their disappointment as the state runners-up.|
The grass was green, the field was beautifully prepared and the smell of hot dogs was already permeating the air when the reverberating yellow buses began to pull in.
In fact, when Helper's own 'Green Monster' Gardner Field opened its arms to the finest teams in 2A baseball last weekend, it was in full form.
Gardner field has long been touted as one of the nicest baseball facilities in the entire state.
As tournament co-organizer Jeff Cisneros pointed out, the Helper diamond is not a field; it's a ballpark.
It was fitting, then, that baseball's elite should battle for the crown in a ballpark that whispers so much baseball history.
In the end, the Juan Diego Soaring Eagles left the field last, carrying with them their second 2A state title in as many years.
During the weekend run, Enterprise was the only school to seriously counter the Eagles on their seemingly undeterred path to the state title.
Going into the fifth inning of Thursday's opening game for both teams, Enterprise led 5-2 with no signs of giving Juan Diego any ground to stand on.
But, with the top of the order up for Juan Diego, the Eagles banned together to overtake the lead Enterprise had maintained the entire game.
A lead-off single, a walk and a triple positioned Juan Diego with the tying run on third with only one out.
Enterprise's composed demeanor began to crumble under the pressure of the defending champions. An outfield error followed by a hit scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
Juan Diego followed with flawless fielding to close the final two innings and took the game 6-5.
The Eagles then used the momentum to steam roll over the rest of their tournament competition: Parowan.
The two teams met on Friday as the only undefeated clubs remaining in the tournament.
Despite a sixth inning scare when Parowan charged from 16-2 to 16-10, Juan Diego dug in and polished off the game ahead 18-10.
With the mental edge of having two shots to win the tournament, Juan Diego finished off Parowan 7-2 in the state championship game on Saturday.
Walt Borla, a tournament organizer, said hosting 2A state baseball may lead to other high school tournaments in the near future.
According to Borla, the efficiency of the event and the remarkable field turned the heads of many, including Utah High School Activity Association planners.
Carbon County may soon be welcoming 1A and 3A baseball tournaments.
Borla said the credit has to go to Cisneros and Jeff Jewkes, however, for the time and effort the pair have put into restoring Gardner Field to its current condition.
Cisneros and Jewkes are currently coaching Helper's American Legion baseball program.