Three local baseball teams will be chasing a state championship, starting this weekend.
Cache Valley, Ridgeline and Blacksmith Fork (Mountain West) are among the 16 teams that qualified for the main bracket of the American Legion AA state tournament, which begins Friday at a pair of venues in Utah County.
The Cache Valley Crew, who are comprised primarily of recent Mountain Crest graduates, are seeded first and will square off against No. 16 Alta. Cache Valley, which also has recent graduates from Sky View, Bear River and Box Elder on its roster, is scheduled to play Alta at 5:30 at American Fork High School.
Ridgeline, the No. 5 seed, will play 12th-seeded American Leadership Academy at 10 a.m. at American Fork, while Blacksmith Fork, the No. 7 seed, will take the field against No. 10 Payson at 3 p.m. at Timpanogos High School.
This is a true double elimination tournament and it will conclude Thursday, July 27 at Gates Field in Kearns. All of the games will be contested at American Fork or Timpanogos until the final two days of the tourney.
Green Canyon had a chance to join the other three Cache Valley teams in the field of 16, but lost a very competitive best-of-three play-in series against Viewmont last weekend.
Viewmont won Game 1, 4-1, last Friday at home, and held off Green Canyon by a 3-2 scoreline the following day to avoid the if-necessary contest. The Huskers narrowly outhit the Vikings in both games, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
Green Canyon plated its lone run in the series opener in the top of the first. Abe Olson singled and then crossed home plate on a Traceson Jensen single.
The Vikings limited the Huskers to two hits the rest of the way — a double by Avery Passey and a single by Jaken Petersen.
Green Canyon ace Reece Hansen held Viewmont to three hits in six innings, but the hosts scored a pair of unearned runs. Hansen struck out seven, walked one and plunked another.
Viewmont manufactured three runs in the bottom of the third on two hits — the second of which was a triple — a hit batsman and a Green Canyon error. A pitch in the dirt also loomed large.
The Vikings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Game 2 before the Huskers rallied with two runs in the home half of the third. Hansen and Jensen came through with run-scoring singles in that frame.
Green Canyon pared its deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Caden Stuart walked and scored on a Jensen single. Unfortunately for the Huskers, they were unable to advance the potential game-tying run past first base the rest of the way.
Stuart contributed with a pair of runs and walks for Green Canyon, which got a pair of hits and RBIs from Jensen. The Huskers finished with six hits to the Vikings’ five.
Olson sparkled on the mound for Green Canyon as he struck out 11 in seven complete innings. Olson scattered the aforementioned five hits and issued four free passes.
Cache Valley and Ridgeline played one final tune-up game on Monday evening in Millville in preparation for the state tourney, and the Crew prevailed 5-2. Cache Valley scored once in the first and second frames, twice in the fourth and once in the seventh, while Ridgeline plated both of its runs in the bottom of the sixth on a home run by Davis Fullmer over the fence in left.
Braydon Schiess pitched four innings of scoreless ball for the Crew. The future East Arizona College player only allowed three singles, fanned six, walked one and plunked another.
Taft Chambers provided a big spark at the very bottom of Cache Valley’s batting order with three runs, two base knocks and a walk. Chase Carter doubled and singled for the Crew, who got a pair of RBIs from Taydem Neal.
Marshall Hansen finished with two singles and scored a run for the Mavericks.