ST. GEORGE – Behind three former Hurricane Tigers, the St. George Sentinels pulled off a two-game sweep of Sevier County in American Legion baseball play Wednesday night at Pine View High School’s Panther Field.
Nick Horsley had five RBIs in two games and Mike Lacy and Tobie Swenson recorded victories on the mound as St. George won 5-4 and 5-0 over a Sevier team that was playing with just eight players on the long road trip.
“It’s their first year and they are struggling a bit with getting players to all the games,” said Sentinels coach Shane Johanson. “I told their coach to just bring who they can and let’s get these games in. That’s Legion ball for you sometimes, especially for a first-year program.”
To its credit, Sevier battled and actually led 4-0 in the first game after Swenson gave up a grand slam in the top of the second inning. With little time to make up ground (both games were shortened to five innings due to Sevier’s severe player shortage), the Sentinels had to get to work on the comeback. Swenson shut Sevier down the rest of the way and St. George’s offense came to life.
Payton Higgins had a two-run single in the third to cut it to 4-2 and Logan LaFemina (yep, he’s back) tripled home Lacy in the fifth. After a fly out and a Higgins walk, Horsley then stepped up with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and delivered a walk-off, two-run double to the left-center gap to win the game.
“I felt pretty good, a lot more loose,” Horsley said. “I decided to just play baseball instead of stressing about where I’m going to college or whatever. The last few weeks of the spring season, I was was just stressing, like I had to do good, instead of just playing ball. It’s been a lot looser this summer.”
Horsley was the catcher in the second game and he caught a gem in the second half of the doubleheader. Lacy had a splitter working and it baffled the Sevier hitters, who managed just two hits and a walk off of the former Hurricane star.
“My splitter was working pretty good and I was hitting my spots,” said Lacy, who hurled all five innings in the shutout. “That’s the longest outing I’ve had in a long time. I had good defense behind me and I felt good.”
Johanson said it was a pleasant surprise for Lacy to come out and dominate.
“We’ve mostly used him in relief, but he hasn’t logged a lot of innings,” he said. “I felt bad because he warmed up in almost every game, but I didn’t get him in to pitch on our California trip. He really pitched well tonight.”
The only run of the first 3 1/2 innings came off a wild pitch in the first that scored Alec Flemetakis. But the tight affair turned one-sided in the bottom of the fourth. Higgins made it 2-0 by drawing a two-out bases loaded walk. Horsley followed with his second double of the day. The deep ball to the wall in left scored LaFemina, Flemetakis and Higgins to make it 5-0.
Lacy then mowed Sevier down 1-2-3 in the fifth to end the game.
The Sentinels needed the pair of wins after losing four games in California at the USA Firecracker Classic. St. George battled, but had bad luck finishing games, losing by scores of 6-5, 2-1, 5-3 and 2-1.
“That was a tough trip because we were right there,” Johanson said. “We lost four games by a total of five runs. And then there was a moratorium over the Fourth of July, so it was good to get back out here and get some wins.”
The Sentinels are 15-10 overall and are now 8-4 in American Legion Southern Region play, tied for second place with Vernal. St. George squares off with the new kids on the block, the Dixie Pilots (5-4), this Friday with a doubleheader at Dixie High’s Flyer Field. The two-game set begins at 7 p.m.
“We’ll have no problem getting up for Dixie,” Johanson said. “They’re coming off a state championship and I’m sure they’ll have all their guys. It should be a great series.”
Johanson said the games are crucial for his team as state seeding is on the line. He also said Dixie has chosen not to participate in the state tournament in its inaugural season.
“I think this is the end of the season for them, so it will be important for them as well,” he said. “They’ll want to go out on a winning note, I’m sure.”
The American Legion state tournament begins with a Southern Region set of first round series at Helper July 20-22. The survivors of those first three days then move up to Kearns High’s Marshal-Gates Field July 25-29 to face the survivors from the North Region. The state champ then moves on to the regionals in Denver Aug. 2-6 with a trip to nationals on the line.
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