ST. GEORGE — The hometown American Legion baseball team, the Sentinels, are hoping experience helps them take that one extra step and win the state championship this summer.
The Sentinels open their season tonight with a pair of games in the Cache Valley, battling the Sky View Legion team at 5 p.m. and the Logan legionnaires at 7:30 p.m.
“We were so close last year,” said coach Shane Johansen. “We’re more experienced now and with some good pitching, well, let’s just say we’ll be disappointed if we don’t get back there again this year.”
The St. George Sentinels were 25-8 a season ago and finished second to Helper, losing 9-0 in the championship game. The Sentinels had been knocked into the loser’s bracket of the state tourney, but won six straight games, including an 8-0 shutout by pitcher Carter Milne, to have a shot at the title.
Thinks could be a bit more difficult this season as the Sentinels have no real home games the entire season. Last year they used Pine View’s Panther Field as a home base, but the field is being re-configured, leaving the STG team with nowhere to play.
Of the 28 scheduled games (not counting postseason tournaments), the Sentinels will play just 12 in St. George, with several of those being “road” games at Dixie, Desert Hills and Snow Canyon. The other games will played at several venues, including Dixie State’s Hurst Field, Elks Field and Snow Canyon High.
“We need to get used to playing on the road,” Johansen said. “We’ve got to become road warriors.”
Infielders Tyler Johnston and Logan LaFemina and outfielders Connor Clark and Kash Walker all return to the team, fresh off a state championship at Pine View. Milne is also back on the mound for the Sentinels, as well as former Dixie Flyer players Chris Petrosie and Austin Ruseler. Josh Howard, who led the team in batting and home runs, also returns. He is a former Snow Canyon star. Cole Green will also pitch for the Sentinels.
“We don’t have a perfect roster yet, but we know who our key guys are going to be,” Johansen said.
The Sentinels play top Idaho team Pocatello Saturday and will play their first “home” game Jun. 12 with a doubleheader at Elks Field against the Salt Lake Gulls. First pitch is 6 p.m.
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