Capturing a state championship is still attainable for a baseball team comprised entirely of recent Mountain Crest and Ridgeline graduates.
The road to that title just got a lot more challenging, though.
Farmington took the lead in the top of the first inning and never relinquished it en route to a 7-5 victory over the Cache Valley Sox in the winner’s bracket of the Utah U19 Legion State Championships on Tuesday night at Pleasant Grove High School.
The top-seeded Sox must now beat No. 3 Lone Peak in an elimination game on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Should they prevail, they will earn a rematch against No. 14 Farmington immediately after. The winner of the Cache Valley-Lone Peak showdown must defeat Farmington twice to win the tournament — with a true championship contest scheduled for Thursday night should it come down to that.
Daxton Purser put together a clutch performance at the plate for the Sox as he went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer, a double and two runs. Cache Valley’s other five hits were recorded by five different players.
The Phoenix (25-4) were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth when they exploded for four runs — all with two outs. In fact, Farmington’s fourth-inning surge started with two outs and no runners on base.
Farmington scored again in the fifth frame to increase its advantage to 7-2. Cache Valley made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Cooper Murphy singled, Austin Pond singled and Purser smacked a three-run jack over the fence in right.
The Sox (26-3 against legion opponents) were able to get the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning, but Farmington pitcher Trey Farr slammed the door with back-to-back strikeouts.
Cache Valley scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth when Tadon Burbank tagged up on a sacrifice fly to center field by Murphy. The Sox manufactured another run one inning later when Purser scored on a sac fly to left by Kyler Hansen.
Cache Valley left the bases loaded in the third inning.
Jace Ward walked three times for the Sox, who had their 10-game winning streak come to an end against American Legion opponents. Cache Valley beat Farmington 3-0 on June 12 as Purser threw a two-hit complete-game shutout.
The Phoenix increased their winning streak to six and have prevailed in nine of their last 10 games.
Both teams finished with nine base knocks in Tuesday’s showdown. The biggest difference is the Phoenix walked seven times and another one of their batters was hit by a pitch, while a trio of Farmington pitchers only issued four free passes.