The Carbon High School baseball team traveled south to St. George this past weekend to compete in the Pizza Hut Classic tournament. This is the same tournament that last year the Dinos captured the title to for the first time ever in the ball clubs history. This year, the Dinos intended on defending this championship with honor.
This tournament was not only the first for the Dinos this season, but also the first games played by the defending state champs. In fact, the Dino's team is so fresh, that the final cuts were made only a couple of weeks ago. Considering that the team has not even practiced much yet this year, the results of the Pizza Hut tourney turned out quite successful.
Although the Dinos finished with a second place win, the team did perform quite honorably. In fact, the only game that the Dinos failed to win was the championship game against Tooele, all other games played by the team ended with Carbon on the winning end of the scoreboard.
The Dinos opened up the tournament against the 4A Box Elder Bees. The Dinos played well in the opening game. The Bees fell to the defending state champs by the score of 11-8.
The Dinos then moved on to face off against Union High. The Dinos once again played strong and defeated Union 7-2.
Following the back to back victories, the Dinos moved on to play the Cedar City Reds. The Dinos opened up strong against the Reds, leading 2-0 heading into the fifth inning.
The Dinos continued to rally in the fifth and sixth inning with three runs, increasing their lead to 8-0, the final score of the game.
After winning the first three games, the Dinos then advanced to the championship round where the team met Tooele.
Although the Dinos faired quite well against Tooele, the Dinos fell 3-2, dropping the team to a second place finish in the tournament. The successful finish may be a sign for good things to come this season for the defending champs.
By kicking off the pre-season strong, the Dinos are bound to only improve with time.
The Dinos managed to find several key players to their success in the tournament. Matt Jewkes, Troy Grundy, and Zack Cloward each were named to the all tournament team for their extraordinary performances.
At the outcome of the tournament, MVP's were also named for individual games. Carbon's team was the recipients of three of these awards. Blake Wilde, a senior for Carbon, pitched his way to an MVP award. Junior pitcher and right fielder, Jan Jorgensen also found himself as an MVP award recipient. Finally, Josh Greenwood, who is also a senior, also received an MVP award.
The Dinos look forward to defending the state title this year, with several returning players. The team is talented and seems to be working quite well together, even though the team has not yet had much practice since being selected to the squad.
The Dinos will now begin the pre-season with several games. Two of which will be held this week at home. To start the week off, the Dinos will host Spanish Fork on Tuesday. The teams will come out swinging at 3:00 p.m.
The week will be complete with a second home game to be held on Friday, also at the Dinos ball park at 3:00 p.m.
The Dinos intend to open up the pre-season strong, just as they did in St. George last week. Often times, the pre-season will reveal what is to come in the regular season. Therefore, the Dinos are not taking the two upcoming games lightly.
The Pizza Hut Classic has turned out to be a successful tournament the past two years for the Dinos. Last year after winning the tournament, the Dinos ended the season as state champions. This was the first championship for the Dinos since 1952.
The Dino team now hopes to form its own record with a back to back championships. With the talent the team has, it is a very realistic goal.
The pre-season tournament not only served as good competative practice for the Dinos, but also as a learning experience for what's to come this season.
According to Dinos head coach Lane Herrick, "we made quite a bit of progress at the tournament. This gets us ready for the season."
Getting ready for the season is what this tournament is all about. By playing several teams, coaches are able to determine what strengths the team has and the weaknesses that need to be improved before the season begins March 25 against Lehi.
"We had quite a few players step up this past week. I have been able to get an idea of what we are capable of," explained Herrick.
The Dinos will continue to fine tune the team as the season quickly approaches. The team looks forward to competition, as they move forward in their quest for a back to back championship.