Mountain Crest turned Logan’s Senior Night into a celebration of resilience and the reward of perseverance with a 4-1 win that secured the program’s first region title since 2015.
An RBI single from Tadon Burbank in the first inning and a three-hit, two-run fourth inning built a lead the Mustangs (16-8, 11-4 Region 12) would never give up, allowing Mountain Crest to claim its final and decisive victory of the regular season.
A loss would have sent the first-place trophy to Garland in the hands of Bear River — a team Mountain Crest swept earlier in the year — but the Mustangs didn’t buckle under the pressure. And as usual, the defense came through.
“Hayden Simper threw really well,” MC head coach Steve Hansen said. “Kept (Logan) off-balance, threw strikes, that’s what he does, and we played some defense behind him.”
Simper did gave up six hits but didn’t allow the Grizzlies (4-20, 2-13) to string any together for runs save for the one occasion that Logan managed to bring a man home. But even then, Mountain Crest got a double play as the Grizzlies recorded that run.
Ethan Wilson facilitated the offense for the Mustangs, driving in two runs on 2 for 3 hitting and scoring a run himself. The other five Mustang hits were spread across five players.
While the time between region crowns didn’t even span half a decade. The 2016 school split that created Ridgeline sent Mustang baseball — and most other sports — into a vortex of mediocrity or worse. First, they had to play a 5A schedule with a depleted 4A roster. Even after moving down classifications, the Mustangs still struggled. In the two seasons after the split, Mountain Crest won just 12 games overall, missing the playoffs by a wide margin in 2017 and sneaking into fourth place in 2018 before a quick exit.
“We took some lumps for a couple years,” Hansen said. “The split was tough on us but these guys have been around since they were freshman. And they took the lumps but they learned, they kept patient and they kept playing and just kept after it.”
Brady Hall, the lone senior on Mountain Crest, played through those lumps but in no way regrets those times, saying this team “wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those two years.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Hall said. “We had to battle through some adversity my sophomore and junior year. We didn’t have a great two years but we knew if we put in the work we’d have a chance to win it tonight.”
Even this season, excluding past troubles, Mountain Crest had to work through a series losses to Green Canyon and Ridgeline that nearly spelled doom for the Mustangs’ region title hopes. Recovering from those four combined losses to the Wolves and Riverhawks took help, which the Mustangs got from Bear River sweeping Green Canyon, but Mountain Crest still had to take care of business by sweeping the Grizzlies.
“We just tried to get back to what we were doing at the start of the year,” Hall said. “Playing real loose. Those losses, we were really up tight we didn’t put the ball in play like we wanted to and we just loosened up and played the way like we knew we could.”
Logan, having been eliminated from a playoff berth weeks ago, bid farewell to a group of nine seniors: Kevin Nye, Timm Van Leeuwen, Mack Smith, Kade Rice, Alex Ballot, Zac Egbert, Hayden Swartz, Dakota Jenson, Kyle Truex. Ballot and Truex each had a hit with Truex getting the lone RBI for Logan on the night.
RIVERHAWKS 6, BOBCATS 4
For the second time in the series, Ridgeline completed a comeback from an early deficit against the Bobcats. Sky View (5-17, 3-12) scored a run in the first inning for the third straight game and added three more in the fourth to build a 4-0 advantage. Then the Riverhawks (11-11, 9-6) strung together hits better than at any point this series.
In the top of the sixth inning, Ridgeline got seven consecutive batters on base, four by hits, two via hit pitch and one from a fielder’s choice. That stretch earned the visitors five runs in the inning and they’d add one more in the seventh for good measure. Dax Purser doubled for Ridgeline.
Ridgeline head coach Paul Bowler was justifiably upset with his team’s performance in its first two games with Sky View — a 2-1 win and a 6-3 loss. After the loss, Bowler lamented the “horrible baseball” his team had been playing and the lack of discipline at the plate. On Friday, he noted its improvement.
“It was definitely better during most of the innings,” Bowler said. “Still needs work and needs to be more consistent.”
Sky View honored four seniors for its senior night: Ryder Lundahl, Payton Bagley, Parker Murdock and Rhett Draper. Lundahl doubled.
“Even with the tough season we had, our seniors led the way and were good examples of leaders,” SV head coach Todd Phillips said. “They truly kept fighting to the end and did great things for our program.”
BEARS 11, WOLVES 3
The Bears (18-7, 11-4) won their 10th consecutive game and ninth straight region game, having now swept their last three region foes (Sky View, Logan, Green Canyon). The Wolves, having already lost its first region series and their chances at a region title, failed to send out their seniors with a win in their final home game.
Bear River, which earned a share of the region title, poured it on early and often, scoring all 11 of its runs in the first four innings. Green Canyon put up an admirable three runs in the second to try and halt the Bears’ momentum and make the game a two-run contest at 5-3, but couldn’t keep up and failed to score again the rest of the way.
Green Canyon (16-9, 9-6) sent off seven seniors in the final home game: Dewey Panter, Jaren Hale, Payton Jones, Mason Hawkins, Trave Jensen, Henry Wright and Brock Rindlisbacher. Head coach Ryan Eborn had a lot to say of the group.
"These seniors have a special place in my heart," he said. "They brought me closer to remembering how much fun I had playing the game than any other group I've coached. They have committed to the process of hard work and dedication, and letting the results take care of themselves. They have set a high standard for the underclassmen in this program to reach for. I'm proud as heck of them for a great season and am thankful for the relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Preston earned the right to play another day by going 1-1 on Day 1 of the 4A District 4-5 Tournament. The 10th-seeded Indians rolled to a 11-4 victory over seventh-seeded Jerome, and then were blanked by second-seeded Minico, 10-0, in five innings.
Preston will square off against third-seeded Pocatello in an elimination game on Monday at 5 p.m.
The Indians shined in all facets of the game against Jerome. Preston racked up 17 hits, didn’t commit a single error and held the Tigers scoreless in every inning except for the second.
Isaiah Smith played extremely well for Preston as he went 4 for 5 — three singles and a double — at the plate, with three runs and two RBIs. He also went the distance on the mound, scattering eight hits and striking out 11.
Justin Inglet also had a big day offensively for the Indians as he singled three times, doubled, scored three runs and drove in three more. Dillon Haslem, Jackson Facer and Zac Allen had two base knocks apiece for Preston, and Allen added two RBIs.
“The Jerome game went well for us,” Preston head coach Kenny Inglet said. “Smith threw a great game and our defense was right there for him. Offensively, we were solid too. Smith, Haslem and Inglet all struck the ball very well today.”
Minico exploded for nine extra-base hits in Preston’s second game of the tournament, and plated nine of its runs in the first three frames. The Indians were limited to four singles by four different players.
HJ sports writer Jason Turner contributed to this report