Helper American Legion competes at state, takes second
|A Helper American Legion player hits the ball into the centerfield during a game in July.|
The Helper American Legion game completed its season in second place after a long week of tournament play in Kearns. Helper had no problem defeating all opposing teams they went up against except St. George who won 28-4 and 9-2 in the championship game on Saturday.
Helper continued tournament play on Wednesday with two wins and a forfeit behind them. Taylorsville was destined to be the next team to be taken down by Helper in an 8-5 win.
After scoring their first run in the first inning, Helper lost its lead and lagged behind Taylorsville 4-1 in the sixth inning.
Helper's determination took control in the sixth inning. After pitcher Chandler Pearson pitched five innings and struck out Taylorsville's Brett Kone and walked Josh Nelson in the sixth, he was moved to shortstop and Mike Smith replaced him on the mound.
Smith's pitching destroyed Taylorsville's chance of scoring any more runs in the inning by forcing Brinton Orullian into a double-play to end the top half of the inning.
The bottom of the inning continued to be on the side of Helper. Aaron Sandoval and Chris Hatch hit singles one after the other in the sixth. Pearson then followed and hit an incredible single, bringing Sandoval safely home.
An error by Taylorsville's Xavier Gonzales on a groundball by Joe Via allowed Hatch to score the tying run.
With bases loaded and the score tied with only one out, right fielder Dustin Howa came up to bat and completed a bunt bringing the third base runner home.
Helper received Thursday off but was ready for play of Friday night as they went up against the Kearns team.
Kearns started the game by scoring three runs with a two-run home run and a sacrifice fly.
|A Helper American Legion player makes his way around third base towards home during a game in July.|
Helper came back in the third inning scoring its first runs of the game when Trevor Thompson scored on an error and Wes Baletka scored on a single from Hatch's RBI double. Sandoval then scored on a wild pitch, followed by a single by Via, bringing in Hatch. This gave Helper a 4-3 lead at the end of the inning.
Helper was once again trailing in the eighth inning. Hatch and Pearson both singled to start the inning. After Hatch scored from third on a wild pitch, Via came in and hit a single putting runners on first and third with one down. Howa laid down a bunt that would bring Pearson back home and bring the game to a 6-6 tie. Pearson did what he thought necessary to make it home and tied up the game by jumping over the Kearns catcher's outstretched arm and sliding into home.
The game finally ended after 10 innings and a sacrifice fly by Smith with bases loaded and just one out, ending the game with a 7-6 win for Helper.
Pearson pitched a great game on Friday after coming in as a relief pitcher for Morgan Bates. He struck out a number of batters including six in the 9th and 10th innings.
Unlike the rest of the games in the tournament, Saturday's two games against St. George didn't turn out as well as many Helper fans had hoped, losing both games to St. George 28-4 and 9-2.
Game one of the final day of the tournament didn't do much for Helper's confidence after scoring one run in the first and not scoring again until the ninth.
While Helper struggled, St. George scored two runs in the second and third innings and four in the fourth. They completed their final run in the eighth,ending the inning with a 9-1 lead.
Even though they were down by eight runs, Helper came into the ninth with the determination to win, scoring one run and ending the game with a 9-2 loss against St. George.
Even though it wasn't a great game, Sandoval hit an incredible home run.
Game two was just as bad for Helper who scored their only four runs during the fourth and fifth innings.
St. George on the other hand, had no problem putting runners on base and scoring runs, easily winning game two and and claiming their second American Legion state championship in three years.
Even though they didn't win the championship title, Helper has had an undeniably great year, ending the season in second place in the state.