Helper American Legion ball club almost takes it all
|The Helper American Legion baseball squad took second place in the state on Saturday. Included in the team were Ricky Lopez, JD Sherman, Chris Hatch, Bryce Till, Mike Zaccaria, AJ Mitcheson, Aaron Sandoval, Brett Johnson, Brandon Branch, Ron Herrera, Kyle Esquibel, Adam Martinez, Joe Via, Blake Mortensen, Trever Thompson, Jemes McKendrick, Brady Wilde, Kyler Edgehouse, Marcus Zaccaria, and Jordan Moynier. The team manager was Jeff Cisneros, and coaches were John Gianini, Dusty Litster, and Joe Via.|
Seeded number eight in the state tournament, Helper knew it had a long way to climb if it wanted to earn a seat at the championship table for the second year in a row.
Despite a season that had its ups and downs, the team felt it was hitting on all cylinders going into the play offs.
So second place, while not what they wanted, was not so bad, as they did their best and nearly came out on top by the end of the week.
Facing Cedar City in the first round on July 26, Helper needed a strong showing from their pitching staff. Kyler Edgehouse gave the team just what it needed as he went six an a third innings giving up only two runs. Adam Martinez came on in relief.
During the game Chris Hatch and Joe Via homered and Ricky Lopez went 2-3 to give Helper a 6-3 victory.
On July 31 the schedule had Helper taking on Murray. With bad weather threatening Bret Johnson took the mound and had six good innings.
Martinez again came on in relief and gave up two runs before closing out the game. Via hit two doubles and Trevor Thompson went 3-3. Thompson hit a double and two singles.
By the fifth inning rain and wind were whipping the field, but Helper held on to take a 5-3 win in their second game of the tournament.
Rain postponed the action the next day (Tuesday) and when play resumed on Wednesday Helper had to take on powerful Taylorsville.
Brady Wilde was the pitcher of record and held T-ville to three runs through the fourth. He gave up two in the fifth before Jordan Moynier came in on relief. Moynier was tagged for a pair of runs as well.
The Helper bats were silent in the game. When they did get some wood on the ball, they hit it right into the oppositions hands. Helper collected only four hits on the night and did not score. They fell to Taylorsville 7-0.
To make up for the Tuesday rain out a double header was on tap for Aug. 3. That day one of the games was Helper vs. Tooele.
Tooele jumped out quick with a 2-1 lead and held it into the fifth inning. Kyler Edgehouse settled down and shut down the Tooele bats. He pitched a complete game only a few days after going over six innings against Cedar City.
Hatch helped the scoring effort with a triple and a double. Kyle Esquibel also went 2-3. It was a good defensive game from both teams, but Helper was able to outscore Tooele by two and take a 4-2 win.
Tournament favorite, St. George went head to head with Helper in the second game of the night.
Taylorsville had given both teams a loss so it was a win or go home game. Brett Johnson got off to a shaky start, but the offense kept the team in the game. By the third inning the game was tied at four a piece. It remained there until the seventh inning. Johnson then gave up a pair of walks and Martinez came in and gave up a hit to load the bases. He forced the next batter to fly out sending the game into extra innings.
JD Sherman led off Helper with a walk. Edgehouse got on and Aaron Sandoval singled in Sherman. Via tripled in 3 more and the game was in the bag with Helper winning 7-4.
The win earned Helper a bye for Friday night and St. George a trip home. But it meant Helper would face Taylorsville again for the final match up.
In that game Edgehouse took the mound for the third time in the tournament. He gave up four runs early. Two were scored on errors.
With the final game being a nine inning affair, the team knew it still had time to climb back in. Down 5-1 after two innings, Helper went up 9-5 in the fifth. Edgehouse gave up two more to Taylorsville in the fifth and then Brady Wilde came in to pitch. He also gave up two runs.
The game began to slip away as Wilde gave up another run in the sixth. Martinez tried to come in and shut the Taylorsville men down but gave up two more in the seventh and the final run in the eight.
All together Taylorsville amassed 13 runs, while Helper was only able to manage nine. But it was a good performance for the eastern Utah squad which at times during the season weren't at their best.
This is the second year in a row that Helper took second in the state, and it shows the power of players from Carbon and Emery Counties.