A. L. Baseball Season in Full Swing
|Travis Barnett pitches during a league game held last Wednesday at Helper Field. Barnett had 10 strike outs against Cottonwood, leading to a 8-4 victory for the Helper American Legion team.|
The first week of American Legion baseball has come and gone and the Helper team finds itself on top of its game.
Last week, Helper competed in three home games. The series started Monday as the Helper team faced off against the Region seven team.
Monday's game found the Helper team struggling against the visiting team. According to coach Jeff Cisneros, "the team just didn't play well. I'm not sure what the reason was, I guess they were just not motivated."
Throughout the game, the Helper team found themselves down by eight to nine runs. By the end of competition, Helper suffered their first league loss, 14-9.
After starting the week off on a rocky road, the Helper team vowed to improve and compete with enthusiasm. That is just what the team did on Wednesday against Cottonwood.
Helper entered the field determined to send Cottonwood home with a loss. With Travis Barnett pitching throughout the game, Helper stepped up to take the lead early. This lead would hold strong, leading to a 8-4 victory for Helper.
In the third inning, Zac Cloward completed a double with bases loaded. The play was followed by an error on a fielders choice which lead to a Helper run. By the end of the third inning, Helper had four runs in their rally against Cottonwood.
The fourth inning was loaded with Cottonwood errors, which lead to two runs by Helper. And in the fifth inning, Landon Watson singled, and Mike Smith doubled, leading to a Helper run.
Helper lead Cottonwood 8-0 entering the final inning, but with Barnett wearing down, Cottonwood was able to narrow Helpers lead to 8-4.
"Barnett seemed tired in the final inning. He walked and hit a few guys, which lead to the only points put up on the board by Cottonwood," explained Cisneros.
The Helper team completed the eight runs on six hits and no errors. Barnett was instrumental in the win as he pitched 10 strike outs against Cottonwood.
The final game Helper played last week was held Friday against Murray. For the home team, this match up would be a grudge match of sorts. Last season, Murray defeated Helper in the state tournament, forcing Helper to finish in second place. This was Helpers chance to even the score with Murray.
Josh Greenwood stepped up to pitch for Helper and had a successful game for the team. By the fifth inning however, Troy Grundy took the pitchers mound to finish off the league game for Helper.
The fourth inning was filled with excitement with two Helper runs. One run was completed by Matt Jewkes who had a run on a single by Watson. The run came after Jewkes stole second base.
Jamal Lewis also had a run during the fourth inning on a walk.
The sixth inning started with a Lewis error followed by a bunt by Watson to second base. Murray committed several errors which cost the team dearly in the sixth inning, leading to three Helper runs. In fact, most of Helpers runs were made due to Murray errors, advancing Helper to a 5-3 victory.
Helper had five runs, six hits, and two errors against Murray. Although the team is strong on the field, the main focus must be on hitting. "We need to start hitting better in order to compete stronger," explained Cisneros.
After finishing the opening week of competition at home, Helper found itself with a 3-1 league record. With several games on the roster this week, Helper could easily advance quickly in the league ratings.
Helper will be on the road this week. The first game on the schedule was scheduled for Monday in Tooele. Helper will then compete against Mountain View on Wednesday, followed by the Viewmont tournament scheduled for Thursday through Sunday.
The season is barely underway, however the competition is tough. The demanding American Legion schedule will progress just as the skills of all the league teams, leading to a season of exciting baseball action.