With a sweep of Payson last week, the Tooele High School baseball team is in the running for a Region 7 baseball crown.
The Buffaloes edged Payson 7-6 on Tuesday at Dow James Park, and defeated the Lions 2-1 in Payson on Thursday.
“Our guys bounced back strong this week and played stellar baseball. It was amazing to get on track against the number one team in the region,” said Tooele coach Chris Taylor.
Those two victories propelled Tooele into a race for the region title.Cottonwood and Uintah sit atop the league with 5-3 records with four games each remaining on the region schedule. Tooele and Payson are at 6-4 with two games each left on the schedule.
The Buffaloes’ final two region games are on Tuesday, May 10 at Uintah and on Wednesday, May 11 at home against Uintah. Payson finds itself up against Cottonwood this week in games on Tuesday, May 3 and Thursday, May 5.
Before Uintah ends the season with games against Tooele, it will face Cedar Valley in two games this week.
In the end, tournament seeds will depend on each teams’ final RPI. Teams seeded 17th through 33rd will play a single-elimination game on Friday, May 13 at the home of the highest seed. Regionals will be held at home sites May 14 and 16 and those games will be the best-of-three series. The seedings, according to the RPI, will be released about May 10.
Ethan Davies made the most of his two trips to the plate Tuesday, April 26 against Payson at Dow James Field.
With the game tied at 6-6 in the fifth inning, Davies smacked a triple with one out to give Tooele the go-ahead runner at third base. The Buffaloes, however, were unable to bring him home with a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning.
But Davies would still play a big part in Tooele’s 7-6 victory.
With the score still tied at 6-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh with one out and Conner Spindler at third base, Davies ripped a shot to center field deep enough for Spindler to tag on the sacrifice fly and score the winning run. Davies was credited with a game-winning RBI.
The Buffaloes got a home-field break when Spindler pounded a hard shot toward the Payson shortstop to start off the bottom of the seventh. The ball took a giant hop over the head of the shortstop and Spindler reached on an infield single.
Adrien Lovato laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Spindler to second and then a wild pitch moved Spindler to third base to set up Davies’ RBI.
Lovato pitched all seven innings to pick up the victory on the mound.
Tooele opened Wednesday’s game with a run in the first inning.
Leadoff hitter Bryson Byrd singled to center, followed by a single to center by Camden Colovich which got past Payson’s center fielder and Byrd raced home on the play with Colovich awarded with an RBI.
Payson jumped ahead in the second inning with two runs on a two RBI double.
Tooele got the offense rolling in the bottom of the fourth. Spindler walked, Lovato followed with a single to left to put runners on the corners.
Jayson Shubert ripped a single up the middle for an RBI and Tooele still had runners at first and third with one out. Garrett Palmer walked to load the bases.
Carson Hendrix singled to center for another Tooele run and the Buffaloes were up 3-2 with the bases still loaded.
Payson walked two runners to make it 5-2, and then Kaden Deen pounded the ball to deep center for a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2 for Tooele after four complete innings.
Payson responded with four runs in the top of the fifth inning on four hits which included an inside-the-park home run.
Neither team scored in the sixth, and Tooele got the winning run in the seventh.
The coach provided a summary of the first victory over Payson.
“In game one against Payson we decided to start Lovato on the mound. Lovato hadn’t pitched since St George, but we were confident in his ability to change speeds and keep hitters off balance, his big 12 to 6 curve did just that which made him very effective. Colovich, Hendrix and Davies all hit well in this game with Davies coming through huge in the 7th with a walk off sac fly. Our team will fight to the bitter end is what impresses me the most about this year’s team, there is no quit in these guys.”
The coach said his players are realizing that games aren’t won on individual effort alone.
“The unselfish small ball these guys are playing is paying dividends in the won-loss column. I believe our best baseball is still ahead, I truly believe these guys will have a shot at the region championship,” Taylor said.
Sophomore pitcher Carson Hendrix limited Payson to five hits in 5 ⅔ innings at Payson in the second game. He struck out five, scattered five hits and surrendered one run in the 2-1 win.
“We gave the rock to sophomore Carson Hendrix. Hendrix has been nothing short of amazing on the bump this season and showed everyone that he will be a force in this region for the next few years. Hendrix isn’t an overpowering pitcher, he’s a command pitcher who hits his spots and forces opposing offenses to swing and put the ball in play,” the coach said.
“Colovich, Davies and Byrd all had great days at the plate, Byrd’s performance was especially amazing since he’s dealing with back discomfort but battled through it to score our only runs. Jayson Shubert has been our most clutch hitter this season, and despite not having a hit on the day, drove in both of our runs with unselfish situational hitting. Bowen, our best overall pitcher, asked to be moved to closer for this series .This is something I will remember for my entire coaching career. Bowen was spot on with his recommendation and came through in dominant fashion recording the final four outs,” Taylor said.
Bowen pitched 1 ⅓ innings and allowed zero hits with two strikeouts in the second game against Payson.
The Stallions handed Cottonwood one of its three region losses with a 3-1 victory over the Colts on Tuesday, April 26.
Nate Nunley, Jace Carroll and Cole Clinton each had a pair of hits in the game. Nunley, Bracken Matthews and Clinton each scored a run in the game. Kimball Thorpe pitched seven complete innings allowing seven hits.
Stansbury then lost 6-3 to Olympus and 7-1 to Cottonwood.The Stallions are 3-5 in league play with a pair of games this week against Hillcrest on Tuesday at home and on Thursday away. Then, on Monday May 9 the Stallions will play at Cedar Valley with a final regular-season home game on Tuesday, May 10 against Cedar Valley.
The Cowboys defeated Morgan 9-4 and lost to Ogden 4-0 in a Region 13 tournament Thursday and Friday at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
Grantsville led 6-4 after five complete innings in the first game and added three more runs in the sixth to win 9-4. The Cowboys scored their nine runs on nine hits. Jaxson George, Caleb Sullivan and Broc Miller each had two hits in the game with one of Miller’s hits a double.
Miller pitched seven complete innings allowing five hits and striking out eight batters.
Ogden sophomore pitcher Ellio Saenz scattered five hits with a whooping 13 strikeouts to shut out Grantsville 5-0 in Friday’s game. Ogden scored all its runs in the first inning.
The top four seeds in the 3A playoffs will host POD games on Saturday, May 7. The tournament is double elimination and will continue at Utah Valley University May 12-14.