WEST JORDAN — It wasn’t the trophy they wanted, but the Mustangs are bringing back a piece of hardware to Hyrum.
Mountain Crest hung with the big-hitting Warriors from Snow Canyon in Game 2 of the best-of-three series in the 4A state baseball championship, but just couldn’t completely stop them when needed. The result was another close, hard-fought loss.
Snow Canyon won Game 2, 6-4, and the series to capture the title early Saturday afternoon at Salt Lake Community College’s Cate Field on a sunny, but at times windy day.
“We played great baseball, just didn’t score enough runs,” MC head coach Stephen Hansen said. “I’m proud of every single one of these guys. ... We just kept grinding away, and our pitching was great. We just fell a little short, but I’m proud of these guys.”
It was the final game for 10 Mustang seniors, who gave all they had to try and win the school’s third baseball state title. They just came up a little short.
“We’ve been doubted a lot since we were young,” said MC outfielder Kolmyn Foulger, one of the 10 seniors. “Just to be here has been the funnest time of our life. It was fun to be right there. I love baseball so much. We played both games (against Snow Canyon) so well and just came out on the short end of the stick.”
The Mustangs (23-9) were the underdogs and not even supposed to get to the title series. Seeded fifth, Mountain Crest thrashed top-seeded Desert Hills to reach the championship.
“We plugged away all season long,” Hansen said. “We started playing our best baseball at the end of the year. We came down here and made some noise and gave Snow Canyon everything they wanted and hung in there both games.”
“I’m just so proud of us,” Foulger said. “We literally played the best baseball of our lives this week. We played how we know we can play. I’m just so proud of everyone. I don’t know what else to say. ... We came out and played our best. We put 13 runs on the No. 1 team in the state. We showed up.”
Mountain Crest dropped Game 1 on Friday, 3-1. That contest featured very few hits.
On Saturday, the bats came alive for both teams. The second-seeded Warriors (28-4) finished with 11, including a pair of triples and a double. The Mustangs recorded eight with a pair of doubles.
“Lance (Welch) pitched a good game today,” Hansen said. “They (Warriors) hit well, but Lance just kept grinding away and kept us in the game.”
Seven different Mountain Crest players recorded a hit. Braydon Schiess had two.
“We had some clutch at bats and kept grinding,” Hansen said. “... We played well. We want a lot of guys contributing, and that’s what kept us in the game.”
Five Warriors had two hits each.
It looked like another pitcher’s duel in the early going. Solid defense helped as well as both teams turned double plays after each team got its first hit.
Heading to the bottom of the third deadlocked at 0-0, Snow Canyon led off by reaching base on the only error of the game. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. A great snag for the second out by second baseman Nathan Rowley, who climbed the ladder to catch a hard-hit line drive, seemingly swung the momentum back to the designated visitors.
But not for long. Warrior lead off batter Luke Anderson was hit by a pitch, followed by an RBI double by pitcher Isaac Lyon for the first run of the game. Landon Frei then smacked a two-run single for a 3-0 lead for Snow Canyon. The Warriors, who never trailed, would end up scoring five of their runs in the game with two outs.
Like they have throughout the state tournament, the Mustangs responded. In the top of the fourth they plated two runs. With one out, Cade Jones doubled down the left field line. Rowley had a single to put more pressure on the Warrior pitcher. Welch brought the first Mustang run home with a ground out. JC Jones made it 3-2 with a RBI double also down the left line.
A lead-off triple by the Warriors would lead to another run in the bottom of the fourth. That would be a theme as each time Mountain Crest, Snow Canyon would answer.
Singles by Hudson Phelps and Schiess led to a pitching change. Dax Roundy welcomed the new Warrior hurler by taking the first pitch to center field for an RBI single. However, Anderson who came on for Lyon, struck out the next two Mustangs. Mountain Crest trailed 4-3.
After giving up a run in the bottom of the fifth, the Mustangs manufactured a run in the top of the sixth. With two Mountain Crest hitters getting on via walks, it led to a double steal with two outs. Speed-up runner Kaden Deeter was able to get home as Preston Jones kept the Warrior infield busy between first and second before getting tagged out.
“These guys are fighters,” Hansen said. “They don’t give up. They believe in themselves and believed they could come down and compete with these guys. That’s exactly what they did.”
Jaden Jones came on to pitch for the Mustangs in the sixth. He enticed two ground outs before Snow Canyon strung together two hits to score an insurance run.
Mountain Crest went down in order in the top of the seventh as Anderson needed just five pitches before a celebration erupted near the pitcher’s mound. The Mustangs shed some tears after being so close to the title, but did pick up the second-place trophy with grace and showed it off to hearty applause from their fans.
“We have some special underclassmen, and they will be back for sure,” Foulger said.