When Russ Guymon started coaching a youth baseball team four years ago, little did he know just how much progress those kids would make.
Those four summers of dedication paid off in a big way as Guymon’s Hyrum Dodgers rolled to a 18-6 victory over the Hyrum Indians in the championship game of their league tournament for Pony-aged players (ages 11-14) on Wednesday night in Hyrum. The league featured teams from all around Cache Valley.
“The majority of these kids I’ve coached for four years,” Guymon said. “Four years ago we started in major league and we could barely hit the ball, and we could barely throw the ball. And every year these kids have continued to sign up and we’ve (developed into) a great team, so to see it finish in a championship in the Pony League is for me, as a coach, so exciting because we’ve come a long ways.”
The second-seeded Dodgers were clinging to a 3-1 lead when they caught lightning in a bottle and went off for 15 runs in the top of the fourth. Hyrum’s unforgettable inning was highlighted by a grand slam by Colton Williams and a pair of triples by Kimball Poppleton. Williams also added a two-run single in the inning.
“Yeah, it was exciting to see them put it together ... and then just see the excitement as the kids batted around and then cheering for and supporting each other,” Guymon said. “So it was an awesome experience in a championship game for them. A lot of these kids don’t play comp(etitive) ball and so for them, the rec season is all they’ve got, so it was a big, exciting time for them to experience that success they had.”
Poppleton was unstoppable at the plate as he finished with three extra-base knocks. The Dodgers also got a double from Jaxon Coleman.
“Our biggest strength (this season) was we were able to hit the ball,” Guymon said. “We had some ups and downs defensively, but we were able to hit the ball. The kids did a good job of making contact and making things happen (offensively).”
Cole Guymon shined on the mound in the semifinals — a win over No. 3 Wellsville — and championship game for the Dodgers. He was Hyrum’s starting pitcher in both contests and limited the fourth-seeded Indians to one run in three complete frames.
In addition to the aforementioned players, the Dodgers were represented by Garrett Guymon, Caden Mauchley, Cache Weeks, Tate Forsberg, Tanner Poppleton, MaCade Brown and Tristan Merritt. Coach Guymon was assisted by Jarod Weeks.
As for the Indians, they struggled defensively, which spelled doom against the Dodgers’ potent lineup. It was a far cry from the Indians’ gratifying 6-2 triumph over top-seeded Logan in the semifinals — a game in which Hyrum didn’t commit a single error.
“It was amazing,” Hyrum Indians head coach Dustin Smith said. “We didn’t start the season out very well. We played those guys (from Logan) the first game of the season and they took it to us pretty good, but we got better every week and it seemed like we got better every game. You know, we just kept getting better and better ... and it was so good to see some kids that struggled at the beginning of the season gain some confidence and play so much better to be able to get us to that championship game.”
The Indians went 2-1 against the Logan Royals this summer, and received clutch performances from Ben Welch and Mason Smith in the semifinals. Both players doubled and singled, and Welch drove in a pair of runs. Additionally, Welch got the job done on the bump for the Indians as he held the Royals to three hits and struck out seven in five complete innings. No. 6 settled down nicely after allowing a lead-off double in the first inning.
The Indians plated five runs in the fourth and final frame in the championship game, and got a timely hit from Kaden Cullimore.
Other athletes on the Indians’ roster included Kellen Smith, Braxton Hamson, Jax Velis, Jase Jorgensen, Cole Allman, Jerrell Jobe, Spence Harris, Tanner Harris, Jehlon Thomas and Crew Robbins.
“It was great to see two Hyrum teams in the finals,” Smith said. “They had to go through the Wellsville team, which is a good team, and the Logan team that we played was really good, and even the Providence team that we played (was very competitive). I mean, there weren’t really any blowouts. It was some pretty good baseball, but it was great to see two Hyrum teams in the championship game. There’s a lot of good players and a lot of young players, too, so it might be pretty good out here for the next couple of seasons.”