The Tooele Buffaloes made things interesting in the early going, but the Stansbury Stallions came away with a mercy-rule victory in Friday’s rivalry game.
With the victory, Stansbury now sits at 7-0 and in first place in Region 11 with the 14-4 victory, while Tooele fell to two games behind Morgan in the loss column for the region’s final playoff spot.
The Buffs got right to work in the top of the first inning thanks to back-to-back base hits by T.J. Bender and Tyson Vigil. Bender got on first with an infield single, and then Vigil knocked a base hit to put the runners at first and second. KC Hansen followed that up with an RBI double off the left-field fence that score Bender and moved Vigil to third base. Nick Schwartzman rounded out Tooele’s scoring when he reached base on error, and Vigil scored from third.
The Stallions responded to the Buffs’ 2-0 lead with two runs of their own. Nick Mackay opened the bottom half of the inning with a walk. He then stole second base, and Wyatt Branch knocked a deep ball to right field for a triple that scored Mackay. Branch then scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 2.
Stansbury pitcher Caleb Batchelor hit Tooele’s Brendan Walker with a pitch in the second inning, and Bender followed it up with a base hit. Vigil grounded into a fielder’s choice where Bender was thrown out at second, but an overthrow on the play allowed Walker to score and give Tooele a 3-2 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, as Stansbury broke things open in the bottom of the second. Batchelor opened with a triple, and Chance Shields willed a ball to fall in for a base hit that scored Batchelor. With the game tied, and Shields at second and Mackay at first, Branch knocked a double to score Shields and give the Stallions their first lead at 4-3.
Filip Anderson stepped in with Mackay at third and Branch at second. He put a ball in play, and he reached base on an error. That scored both Mackay and Branch to give Stansbury a 6-3 lead.
Tooele’s Tristan Prather had a chance to cut into the lead with Braden Furgeson on second base and two outs. He smacked a ball through the infield, but Mackay dove in the dirt and stopped the grounder. He scooped it up and fired it over to first to throw out Prather, leaving the Buffs with no runs in the top of the third inning.
Stansbury added to its lead with two men on base for Shields. He knocked an RBI base hit that scored Brek Bentley and put Stansbury ahead 7-3. Vigil responded for Tooele in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI double that scored Walker and cut the lead back to 7-4.
However, just as the Buffs made any progress in cutting into the lead throughout the game, the Stallions responded with a big inning. Alex Mackay opened with a triple in the bottom of the fourth, and Cody Barkdull drew a walk and stole second to have both runners in scoring position. Bentley knocked a base hit to score pinch-runner Cole Merseth and Barkdull, giving the Stallions a 9-4 lead. Batchelor and Shields both drew walks to load the bases, bringing up Nick Mackay. He grounded into a fielder’s choice, but that scored Bentley to make the score 10-4.
The Buffs made one last attempt to score runs in the top of the sixth after Prather and Walker reached base on errors. Both Ryan Tomac and Bender struck out in the process to leave two runners on with two outs for Vigil. Stansbury’s Batchelor then successfully picked off Walker at first base to leave Prather stranded and end the inning.
Jarrett Anderson got the bottom of the sixth inning started with a triple for the Stallions. Batchelor scored Jarrett Anderson with a sacrifice hit, but an error allowed Batchelor to reach first base. Chandler Staley came in to pinch run for Batchelor. An error on the pick-off attempt moved Staley to second, and Shields reached first base on a walk. Branch knocked a double that scored both runs to make the score 13-4.
The game-ending run came in with Filip Anderson at the plate. He knocked a grounder with Branch on his way to third, and a throwing error allowed Filip Anderson to reach first base safely. With the error, Branch rounded third and headed home. He reached safely, and the Stallions finished off things off for the win.
Stansbury puts its unbeaten region record on the line today when it hosts Bear River at 3:30 p.m. Stansbury defeated Bear River 5-3 on March 21.
Tooele is still alive for the playoffs, but it needs a little help as well as winning its own games. Tooele hosts Summit Academy today for a final tune-up game, but then it gets back into region play in a road contest on Thursday against Ogden. Tooele defeated Ogden 3-2 on March 26.