Sitting above the Tooele Buffaloes in the standings and holding the tiebreaker for fourth place, the Morgan Trojans came to town and did what they had to do to eliminate the Buffs from a shot at the state tournament.
The Trojans scored five runs in the first two innings to hold on for an eventual 6-0 win in Tuesday’s Region 11 baseball game.
THS junior pitcher Braden Furgeson put together his usual strategy for attacking hitters, but the Trojans found the gaps to string together base hits and score runs. Furgeson allowed three hits in a four at-bat stretch during the first inning that allowed Morgan to score its first run. With two outs, Furgeson recorded a strikeout to escape the jam and avoid a break-out inning.
Senior third baseman KC Hansen and junior designated hitter Zach Jeffers gave the Buffs an opportunity to respond in the bottom of the first when they both singled, which put Hansen at third base with two outs. However, Jeffers was caught stealing second base to end the inning.
Morgan jumped on the chance to extend its lead in the second inning when it put together a string of hits featuring three consecutive doubles and then a triple after a strikeout to make the score 5-0. The sixth run came in the top of the fifth inning off a sacrifice fly after a triple.
“Morgan put the ball where we weren’t, and we hit right at them it seemed,” Tooele coach Catham Beer said. “That’s just the way it goes. That’s the way baseball plays.”
The Buffs didn’t have many opportunities to score with their next best chance coming in the bottom of the fifth. Furgeson and senior center fielder Ryan Tomac opened the inning with back-to-back hits, but then sophomore second baseman Brendan Walker grounded into a double play. Sophomore catcher T.J. Bender then grounded out to end the inning.
Beer’s message to his team is to not quit on the season and finish strong, especially because most of the players on this team will be back next year. Tomac and Hansen are the lone seniors on Tooele’s roster.
“We’ve still got the two county teams to play,” Beer said. “You don’t give up. You play for some pride. We’ve gotten better this year. We lost 6-0, but we played a lot cleaner game. When we went up there, we should’ve beat them, but we didn’t play clean. Our games are getting cleaner, so they’re making progress. I’m proud of them. We’re young and inexperienced, but we’re hanging in there.”
Beer said he’s excited about his young players and what they can bring to the table next season.
“We’ve only got two seniors on the team, and we’re going to miss them next year, but we’ve got guys I feel confident that can take their spot,” Beer said. “The message to them is this starts building for next year.”
Tooele next plays at home against Stansbury on Thursday in a rematch from where the pesky Buffs didn’t go away until late. The Buffs took the lead two different times against the Stallions, and Beer said he and his players aren’t afraid of them.
“Stansbury is a good team,” Beer said. “They’ve got some experience, and they’re winning, but I was impressed when we played them last time. We came out and got some runs quick, and we didn’t back down. We respect them, but we’re not afraid of them.”
Beer said the Buffs need to finish what they started.
“What we tell them is that when you have a team down, you keep going after them,” Beer said. “You can’t rest on what you have. We’ve just got to get that killer instinct. We just allowed them to answer back, and we can’t do that.”