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Panthers' state hopes dashed by rival Green River

Green River pitcher TJ Hughes (#20, right) gets into position to tag out Pinnacle High's Harley Barker (#33, left) during a play at home plate in the first game of a doubleheader between the schools on Tuesday afternoon at the USU Eastern Baseball Field. Green River swept the doubleheader to clinch a spot in the 1A State Baseball Playoffs while preventing Pinnacle from making the playoffs for the second year in a row.

By KEVIN SCANNELL
Sun Advocate sports reporter

There's not much more a baseball player could ask for then to play for a spot in the playoffs in a doubleheader against your rival to end the season.

One team would be packing their bags for a trip to Spanish Fork while the others would be hanging up the cleats until the next season.

Unfortunately for the Pinnacle High School baseball team, their season came to an end at the hands of rival Green River on Tuesday afternoon at the USU Eastern Baseball Field.

Green River, 10-9 overall and 4-2 in Region 17, took both games of the doubleheader, including an 11-1 win in game one and a 13-3 win in game two, to advance to the 1A quarterfinals in Spanish Fork on Oct. 8.

Going into the doubleheader, Pinnacle needed to win both games in order to advance.

Pinnacle, 7-12 overall and 1-5 in Region 17, held a 1-0 lead going into the top of the third inning with starting pitcher Isaiah Martinez keeping the Pirates off the scoreboard early.

However in the third inning, Green River's TJ Hughes led off the inning with a triple down the first base line that ignited a six-run rally for the Pirates. The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate, racking up five extra base hits in the inning.

PHS head coach Cameron Gardner said the first game started off well for the Panthers, but the middle innings proved to be the deciding factor.

"We played solid early in the first game, but things just got a little shaky for us in the middle innings," said Gardner.

Green River added three more runs in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach.

"We just couldn't get past those two big innings," he said.

Isaiah Martinez pitched a complete game for the Panthers racking up a number of strikeouts in the process. He also played through a scary incident in the bottom of the fifth inning when he was hit in the helmet with the ball by the Green River catcher. Martinez stayed in the game after being checked out, completing the six full innings.

"Despite the outcome, Isaiah (Martinez) pitched a heck of a game out there," said Gardner.

While the team knew they wouldn't advance to the playoffs, Gardner said the seniors, including Jackson Nichols, Nick Bradford and Austin Vigil, and the rest of the team was able to get the most out of the second game despite the loss.

Gardner said the team will need to put in a lot of hard work in the offseason to help continue building a young program that is still just two seasons old.

"From day one to now, there were many improvements by the team both on and off the field," he explained. "I just let the team know that next season starts right now with hard work and practicing to become a better team."




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