Carbon High players and coaches embrace after the season ending 7-6 loss to Spanish Fork on Friday afternoon.
A leadoff walk. A seeing-eye RBI single up the middle. A ball just out of the reach of a defender. A steal attempt that resulted in the end of a game and a season filled with plenty of highs and lows.
All important plays in their own right. And all of them played a part in the Carbon High baseball team leaving the state tournament with two excruciating losses that ended the Dinos' season early than they were hoping for.
"Our opponents took advantage of opportunities they had and that was the biggest difference in each game," said CHS head coach Troy Moynier.
Carbon fell 2-0 in the quarterfinals to Desert Hills on Thursday morning. After moving to the one-loss bracket, the Dinos faced rival Spanish Fork but came up just short as they lost 7-6 in a game down to the final out.
"We played some tremendous defense over the two games," said Moynier. "But we just couldn't get the hits when we needed them the most."
The Dinos played about as well as they could on the biggest stage of the year at the 3A State Tournament at Utah Valley University.
They fielded well. The infield tandem of Dakota Cisneros and Bryce Blackburn teamed up for some key double plays to get out of jams over the two games. First baseman Derek Young made a terrific diving stop before throwing to pitcher Cole Fossat for an out, saving at least one run from crossing home plate against Desert Hills.
They pitched well. Jarod Lessar held Desert Hills to two runs through 4 1/3 innings of work. Cole Fossat threw 1 2/3 innings while keeping the Thunder off the board. Cisneros started against Spanish Fork and allowed five runs to score. He settled in and kept the Dons scoreless before being taken out after 3 innings of work. Nick Rukavina and Derek Young threw the final four innings allowing two runs the rest of the way.
They got on base. Despite collecting only three hits against Desert Hills, the Dinos had runners on base in each of the last four innings, including in the seventh before Cisneros, representing the winning run at the plate, struck out to end the game. Against Spanish Fork, the Dinos closed a 5-0 deficit with a four-run first inning. In the sixth inning, the Dinos scored two runs on a Tyler Procarione single to make it a 7-6 game. With the moment shifting towards the Dinos, Blackburn came to the plate looking to advance the runner. In a cruel twist of fate for the Dinos, Blackburn's bunt attempt went straight into the air and into pitcher Bennett Bradford's glove who then completed the double play to pick off pinch runner Austin Salazar at first. It was the second time in two days the Dinos hit into a line drive double play that ended a late game rally.
The Dinos took chances late in the game as well. With one out in the seventh, Fossat singled to center and stole second on a close play. After Young struck out, Fossat, the tying run, attempted to steal third base. Spanish Fork catcher Lincoln Rivera made a perfect throw to Cortlen Nielsen to tag Fossat out to end the game.
Moynier said the team was looking to take a chance on a steal but it didn't pan out.
"The pitch was up and the catcher made a good throw to get Fossat out," he said. "We took a chance there and we were trying to catch a break but it didn't work out."
While it was a tough way to end the season, Moynier said he wanted the team to be proud of the way they competed in what he described as a "roller coaster type of season".
"I'm proud of the way our guys played all year long. They played really hard. We started slow but got things rolling after a while and we came into state playing some of our best ball of the season," he said.
The Carbon High senior class that played their final games as Dinos included Cisneros, Young, Blackburn, Rukavina, Feichko, Procarione and Michael Peczuh. Moynier called the group "one of the most united classes" he has had the opportunity to coach over the years.
The Dinos finished with an overall record of 16-9 and a 6-4 mark in Region 12 play.
"It's hard to know what to say to the team after two games like this," Moynier said. "They gave their best effort and played extremely hard out there. The players need to look back and remember the hard work it took to reach this spot at state and take away the memories and good things they did all season long."