The future of baseball in Cache Valley appears to be bright.
A pair of local teams squared off in the championship game of the PONY Utah West Zone State tournament, Mustang division, Wednesday night at A. Lex Baer Field. The rest of the tourney was contested in Orem, but the final game was moved to Providence.
The Cache Valley Red exploded for 19 runs in the first two innings and never looked back en route to a 27-1 victory over the Cache Valley Blue. This was an All-Star tourney for youth ages 8-10.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened before,” CV Red coach Nate Wilson said of having two local teams in the finals. “That was a pretty cool thing to happen. ... It was still set up as an A and a B team, but not really a true A and a B because they have some really good players. But it was awesome to have them get that far too, because we know all of those kids as well. When you’re involved with baseball in Providence and in the valley, you get really familiar with all of these other kids too, so it’s really fun to see them succeed also.”
Up next for the Red All-Stars is a trip to Los Alamitos, California, for the national PONY tournament, which will be held from July 25-28.
The Cache Valley Red will be riding a wave of momentum after racking up 63 runs in their three games this week. The Red blitzed the Orem Grey, 28-0, in their first game and rallied past the Orem Red, 8-7, in the semifinals before dispatching of their rivals in the title game.
“We kind of know where to put kids strategically, kids that are really good at getting on base in front of the kids that are really good at hitting them home,” Wilson said when asked why his team is so potent offensively. “If you look at the box scores, you can kind of see the kids that hit the home runs and have the extra-base hits were behind the kids that have the really high on-base percentages.”
In their opening game, the Red amassed 19 hits in just three innings. Conversely, a trio of Cache Valley pitchers limited Orem to one hit. Seven different Cache Valley players finished with at least two base knocks, including four by Rad Sparrow. Maddux Jensen drove in four runs, while Sparrow and Dawson Simper teamed up to score nine runs.
The Red faced some adversity against the Orem Red as they trailed 6-4 after four frames and 7-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth and final inning. However, Cache Valley dug deep and ended up plating the winning run on an errant pick-off attempt by the Orem pitcher.
“Obviously you like to see who’s going to come through in certain situations, and we were down on and off throughout the entire game,” Wilson said. “I think we only had a lead maybe once. Mostly we were down and playing catch-up, and we needed kids to get hits when it mattered toward the end of the game. And we got them when we needed it from certain kids, which turned out really well for us.”
The Red took control from the get-go in the championship game as they held the Blue scoreless in the top of the first, and then belted a pair of home runs in the home half of the frame. Cooper Wilson smacked a three-run homer and Dakota Calverly added a two-run jack.
Cooper Wilson was unstoppable in the game as he went 4 for 5 with eight RBIs and three runs. The Red finished with a whopping 22 hits in the contest, including 12 of the extra-base variety. Jensen doubled three times, while Simper and Sparrow, batting 1-2 in the lineup, combined for nine runs.
Dallin Anderson had two hits for the Blue, who went 2-2 at the tournament. The Blue bounced back from their 25-7 setback to the Orem Red by winning two straight elimination games. The Blue edged the Orem Grey, 5-4, before getting revenge against the Orem Red in convincing fashion, 26-9.
Jacob Jorgensen “crushed one up the middle,” Blue coach Jory Jensen said, for a walk-off hit in the opening game. Owen Dent, who doubled with two outs, scored the winning run.
“I know how well our boys can hit and I knew that the excitement from Jacob’s walk-off hit would give us the momentum we needed for the next day,” coach Jensen said.
Indeed, the Blue rode that momentum the following day against the Orem Red. The Blue went off for 24 hits, including four apiece from Anderson, Kaden Weiser and Jagur Jensen.
“We were carrying some energy from the day before and we challenged the boys to score some runs early in the game while Orem was still down (mentally from their loss to CV Red),” coach Jensen said. “... We scored 11 runs in the first inning on six hits.”
Weiser and Jensen, who is only 8 years old, also shined on the mound. Additionally, the Blue only committed two errors.
“All of the boys played good defense and we kept the pressure on them the whole game,” coach Jensen said.
The Blue roster was comprised of Colton Clark, Anderson, Jett Jensen, Jagur Jensen, Weiser, Parker Hodgson, Zach Thompson, Dalton Pehrson, Jorgensen, Kolden Kennington, Dent and Peyton Bradford.
The Cache Valley Red were represented by Wilson, Sparrow, Simper, Cole Liechty, Maddux Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Max Haueter, Aiden Gleisberg, Calverly, Riley Fairbanks, CJ Rampton and Tate Higham. Coach Wilson is assisted by Matt Liechty and Jonathan Gleisberg.
Wilson has thoroughly enjoyed coaching this team and it looking forward to next week.
“I mean, it’s a big time commitment to do this,” said Wilson, who praised Sheyler Gunnell for his dedication to the tourney and youth baseball in general. “You have to coach up through rec ball and then do All-Stars and everything else, and we obviously wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy doing it. We know all of these kids already beforehand, and they have really good parents, they’re good kids and it just makes it a lot of fun.”
Wilson’s team will hold a fundraiser car wash on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at Master Mechanic in Providence. Those who wish to donate in the fundraising efforts can also drop by the Providence City Offices during business hours between now and July 23.