The Stansbury baseball team isn’t fazed by pressure.
That much was obvious after Monday afternoon’s 10-7 win over Pine View in the one-loss bracket of the American Legion 19U state tournament at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, as the Stallions picked up their third consecutive victory in a win-or-go-home situation. The victory allowed Stansbury to keep its state championship hopes alive, as the Stallions played another elimination game in Pleasant Grove that was not complete at press time Tuesday morning.
“We’re a really good team — a really, really good team,” Stansbury coach Jason Jones said. “We haven’t even played our best baseball. I don’t think we’ve played our best game, but I think once we’re hitting on all cylinders, we’ll be a tough opponent for whoever we play.”
Playing their second game of the day under a blazing sun on a hot artificial-turf surface, Stansbury didn’t use fatigue as an excuse. The Stallions took a 5-1 lead with a four-run fourth inning, only to watch their opponents from southern Utah respond with four runs of their own in the top of the fifth. While frustration was evident in the Stansbury dugout, they channeled it into a steely resolve at the plate, scoring four more runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to regain control of the game.
“Everyone stepped up,” Jones said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done.”
With the game tied 5-5, Stansbury’s big fifth-inning rally began when Jace Carroll was hit by a pitch with one out. Austin Woodhouse and Tyler Harris walked to load the bases, and Ethan Wayman put down a perfect bunt that allowed Carroll to score and Wayman to reach first base safely. Nate Nunley then popped up a bunt that was just out of the reach of a diving Pine View pitcher, driving in Woodhouse to make it 7-5. Cayden Clark ripped a two-run single to left to extend the lead to 9-5.
Pine View scraped together a run on a Stansbury error in the top of the sixth against Wayman, but the Stallions responded with another run in the bottom of the inning on Harris’ ground ball that drove in Colton Sundloff. Then, relief pitcher Gage Miller shut the door on Pine View in his second pitching appearance of the day, giving up a single and another unearned run on an error in the top of the seventh but otherwise keeping PV from making a comeback.
Miller’s two-inning relief appearance came on the heels of a dominant start in Stansbury’s 6-0 win over Logan earlier in the afternoon. In that game, Miller threw five shutout innings, allowing just one hit with five strikeouts and a walk.
“That’s big-time there, coming back after pitching that first game,” Jones said. “He said he wanted the ball the last two innings. Gage manned up, and he was the man — that’s for sure. He’s been like that all summer. He likes to compete and he likes the ball in his hands when things are tight. Those are the guys we want on our team.”
Carroll started the game on the mound for Stansbury, allowing just one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks in four innings. He turned the mound over to Clark with a 5-1 lead after the Stallions scored four times in the bottom of the fourth, with Sundloff, Carroll, Woodhouse and Harris drawing four consecutive walks to open the inning. Nunley’s bases-loaded walk drove in another run, and Clark hit a two-run single to left.
However, Pine View responded against Clark. PV got a leadoff single, followed by two hit batters and a walk to cut the lead to 5-2. A sacrifice fly made it 5-3, and a pair of errors led to Pine View’s fourth run. A fifth run came home on an RBI single to right, making for some tense moments for the Stallions, but they were able to bounce back.
Clark finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs as the only Stallion with multiple hits in the game. Stansbury benefited from eight walks, as well as two hit batters.
Earlier in the day, Miller, Bryant Nicholes and Carroll combined on a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and one walk in a rock-solid performance against Logan as the Stallions kept their season going. Nunley was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and a run, while Carroll was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run and Sundloff was 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored.
On Saturday, the Stallions defeated Helper 6-3 in an elimination game thanks to a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning. Clark’s leadoff double was followed by a walk by Braydon Allie that set up a RBI singles by Carroll and Harris. Woodhouse then blasted a two-run home run over the right-field fence to give the Stallions a 6-2 lead. Harris picked up the win on the mound allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk in five innings, while Nicholes allowed one unearned run on a hit batter and a walk in two innings of relief.
Stansbury fell into the one-loss bracket with a 5-1 loss to Pleasant Grove and its ace pitcher, Ernesto Lugo, on Friday. The Stallions managed just four hits, with Carroll going 2-for-3 with an RBI single that scored Miller with Stansbury’s lone run in the second inning.