It wasn’t the ending either local baseball team was hoping for, but there’s no denying the future appears to be bright for Ridgeline and Blacksmith Fork (Mountain Crest).
Both programs finished in the top six at the 4A State Championships this past spring and both, despite graduating a large number of seniors, tied for fifth place at the Utah American Legion State Tournament. Blacksmith Fork and Ridgeline were eliminated Tuesday — — seventh-seeded Blacksmith Fork by No. 3 Pleasant Grove, and No. 5 Ridgeline by No. 4 Helper.
Ridgeline earned a rematch with Helper after winning a pair of elimination games Monday. The Merchants beat the Mavericks 13-8 earlier in the tourney, and then emerged victorious by a 2-0 scoreline Tuesday.
Both teams struggled offensively as Helper finished with four hits, while Ridgeline (20-12-1) was limited to singles by Davis Fullmer and Max Baer. Baer was able to reach second base in the fifth inning, while teammate Carter Gill walked and was in scoring position one inning earlier.
Fullmer did all he could to keep the Mavericks within striking distance of the Merchants as he allowed one earned one in five complete innings of the mound. No. 16 held Helper to four hits, struck out one and walked one.
Ridgeline captured the Region 11 title outright during the high school season.
“The program as a whole had a successful summer,” Ridgeline head coach Justin Jensen said. “We learned and progressed in several areas. We won some games, but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a great group of kids that are hungry and eager to learn.”
Like Ridgeline, Blacksmith Fork was never able to get on track at the plate in its final elimination game. Pleasant Grove limited Blacksmith Fork (19-11-1) to a single by Nathan Rowley and pulled away in the middle innings en route to a 10-0 win in six.
The Trappers only struck out three times against the Vikings, but besides Rowley, their only other base runners were Blake Robinson and Trev Hartvigsen. Hartvigsen walked twice and Robinson drew one bases on balls.
Like Ridgeline, Blacksmith went 3-2 at the tournament and prevailed in a pair of must-win Monday contests.
“This summer was especially important after losing 10 seniors after finishing as state runner-ups in high school,” said BF head coach Trace Hansen, whose team won a tournament in Idaho at the beginning of the season. “The competition that we faced this summer in the American Legion State Tournament was very good. Finishing in the top six was a great experience and will help us next spring. It also speaks to all of the hard work and dedication from everyone involved in our program.”
All in all, it was a successful summer for Cache Valley’s American Legion programs. The Cache Valley Crew tied for seventh place at the state tourney and it’s the second straight season a trio of local teams have finished in the top eight.