ST. GEORGE – Springville’s American Legion team braved the heat of southern Utah and the talent of southern Utah’s baseball teams to win the St. George Summer Classic Saturday night at Bruce Hurst Field.
Facing the tying run in the top of the seventh inning, Red Devil relief pitcher Charlie Frey had watched the Flyers put up three runs already in the inning before getting the next two batters to ground out. Dixie third baseman Cade Christensen was 0-1 on the day, but had reached base his previous two at-bats on an error and a hit-by-pitch. This time, Frey caught him swinging at a 2-2 offspeed pitch to close out the game.
Asked whether he had considered pulling Frey after Dixie’s late-game rally Red Devil coach Alec Clements said, “Charlie (Frey) has been in that position before. I did have (Tyler) Killian warming up in the bullpen. And I have confidence in both of them. Charlie was able to get out of the jam.”
Springville and Dixie both arrived to the American Legion Summer Classic Championship without a blemish. Both teams had gone undefeated in pool play and survived through the tournament to meet in the championship game. Dixie beat the St George Sentinels 13-9. Springville reached the final by outlasting Aurora, Colo., 12-7.
“We had good hitting through the whole tournament,” said Clements. “We played small-ball really well and got a lot of runs across the plate.”
The Red Devils got out early against Flyer starter Hobbs Nyberg, collecting seven hits in the first three innings. Clayton Snyder, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, scored the first run on Zach Hales’ single after drawing a walk. In the second inning, Springville catcher Jansten Thorpe hit a two-run double to score Matt Peterson and Ryan Jenkins.
Brinton Montgomery began the third inning with a single. Tanner Perrero followed up with a double. Peterson then got a two-RBI double, but was tagged out when he tried to stretch the hit into a triple. After three innings Springville held a 5-0 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Flyers finally got into the scoring column in the top of the fifth. Kaylor Yates and Christensen both got on board when Red Devil starting pitcher Hales hit both batters on the first pitch. Dixie outfielder Dayton Dempsey then hit into a double play but moved Yates to third. Payden Harrah’s single scored Yates.
Dixie added another in the top of the sixth. Dixie loaded the bases when Chance Vowell drew a walk and Tyson Fisher and Trevor Connell hit consecutive singles. Yates sacrificed to left field, scoring Vowell. Christensen reached on a fielding error before Frey would retire the next two batters with a strikeout and a line out to the shortstop.
Springville put up two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, which turned out to be crucial. After Peterson grounded out, Christensen drew a walk from Stockton Sorden, who relieved Nyberg to start the fourth inning. Jenkins then hit the ball to Dixie first baseman Yates who made a spectacular stop. Realizing that Jenkins would beat pitcher Sorden to the bag, Yates raced and hit the bag just before Jenkins crossed for the second out. The play moved Christensen to third. Snyder drew his second walk on four straight pitches. Sorden’s fourth pitch went wild and scored Christensen. Thorpe then doubled in Snyder for the 7-2 advantage.
Frey struck out Nyberg to begin the seventh, but a passed ball by Springville catcher Thorpe allowed Nyberg to reach first. Staheli and Vowell then drew walks to load the bases. Fisher then hit the ball straight back to pitcher Frey. Frey fielded the ball cleanly, but could not get the ball out of his glove to throw to home. Nyberg scored on the error. Staheli and Vowell scored with the next two at-bats on fielder’s choices, setting up Frey’s strikeout to end the game.
“We did not get an opportunity to scout them because they were in a different pool,” said Clements. “But I told my guys they had to play their best ball. Dixie is well-coached and they played very well in this tournament.”
Frey got the win in relief while Nyberg took the loss for Dixie. Dixie’s Connell was named the most outstanding pitcher for the tournament. Nyberg and Tyson Fisher were named to the all-tourney team.
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