This isn’t an ordinary American Legion baseball season, and Monday’s contest between Tooele and Stansbury wasn’t an ordinary American Legion game.
After having the bulk of the 2020 high school season canceled, the annual rivalry series between the Buffaloes and Stallions had to be put on hold this spring. But roughly three months later, the teams showed it was worth the wait, as Tooele held off Stansbury for a 10-7 win at Stansbury High School.
“It’s always going to be fiery,” Tooele coach Nolan Stouder said. “I feel like I’ve been pretty calm this whole summer, but this game, I got fired up pretty good over plays and stuff like that. It’s always intense when we play (Stansbury) and it’s a lot of fun, win or lose.”
The Buffs (4-0) erupted for five runs in the second inning to turn a 1-1 tie into a 6-1 lead. Brock Beer and Mason Donadio hit back-to-back singles off Stansbury pitcher Kimball Thorpe to lead off the frame, and Austin Avery’s fielder’s choice allowed Beer to score. Bryson Byrd and Dillon Palmer each singled to load the bases, and Brett Porthan ripped a bases-clearing double to the warning track in right-center field. Porthan later scored when Connor Spindler reached base on a Stallions error.
Despite the early deficit, Stansbury coach Jason Jones’ team remained calm.
“That second inning was rough for us, but I’m glad we were able to come back and make it a game,” Jones said. “The biggest thing is just winning each inning, not trying to get a five- or six-run inning all at once. We tried to get one run here or two runs there to get back in it, and I thought we did a real good job of that in the middle innings.”
Stansbury (4-1) gradually chipped away at Tooele’s lead. A one-out single by Cayden Clark and a walk by Colton Sundloff set up Gage Miller’s RBI single off Porthan in the bottom of the third to pull the Stallions within four runs. In the fourth inning, Nate Nunley scored on an error that allowed Bridger Shields to reach base, and Shields scored on an RBI single by Clark off Tooele reliever Camden Colovich. Sundloff followed with an infield single, and Miller drove in two more runs with a double to center to tie the contest at 6-6.
Porthan restored Tooele’s lead in the top of the fifth, hitting a leadoff double and advancing to third on Spindler’s groundout. Porthan scored when a pitch from Miller eluded catcher Braydon Allie to put the Buffs up 7-6.
The Stallions tied the game in the bottom half of the inning after a bit of controversy. With two runners on and one out, Shields hit a fly ball to Porthan at third base. Porthan dropped the ball, but stepped on third base before throwing across the diamond to get Shields at first. However, the infield fly rule was in effect, meaning Shields was automatically out whether or not Porthan caught the ball, and there was no forceout at third. That meant Jace Carroll returned to second base and Nunley returned to first with two outs, and Clark followed with a game-tying RBI double.
However, Tooele wasn’t rattled by the momentum shift. Donadio’s leadoff single in the top of the sixth sparked the Buffs, as he came home on a sacrifice fly by Colovich. Byrd, who drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on the sac fly before coming home on a passed ball for a 9-7 lead. The Buffs added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, as Porthan hit his third double of the evening and came home on Jake Hervat’s sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Donadio, who took over for Colovich on the mound in the fifth inning, slammed the door on the Stallions over the final two frames. He allowed just one baserunner, issuing a leadoff walk to Ashtyn Blake in the seventh, but otherwise kept Stansbury’s offense at bay.
“They’ve got some tough players over there that didn’t give in,” Jones said. “You’ve got to give (Tooele) credit. They made a lot more plays than us and took advantage of our mistakes.”
Tooele opened the scoring when Colovich hit a one-out triple to left-center and came home on a wild pitch. Stansbury tied the game on an RBI double by Sundloff, which came just three pitches after Clark hit a double of his own.
Donadio picked up the win on the mound, allowing one unearned run on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts in three innings. Porthan allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts in three innings, and Colovich allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on two hits and two walks in one inning.
“(Porthan) did a great job on the mound — went three innings and did well,” Stouder said. “He was feeling a little tired and a little tight, so we got him out of there, because he’s got a long career and a great future ahead of him at Dixie State and we don’t want to risk anything like that. Colovich and Donadio knew they had to bridge the gap and finish the game for us, and they did a heck of a job.”
Miller took the loss on the mound for Stansbury, allowing three earned runs on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in four innings. Clark started the game and allowed one run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in one inning. Thorpe gave up four earned runs (five total) on five hits in 2/3 of an inning, and Ethan Wayman struck out the only batter he faced. Carroll allowed one earned run on two hits and a walk in the seventh inning.
Porthan was 3-for-3 at the plate with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored for Tooele, and Donadio was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Clark led Stansbury with a 4-for-4 effort that included a pair of doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored, while Sundloff went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run and Miller was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
Tooele will travel to Roy on Wednesday before a four-game tournament in Helper on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Stansbury will be in Logan for a four-game tournament from Thursday through Saturday.