ST. GEORGE – It’s title time for the Utah American Legion Southern Division and two teams have separated themselves from the pack. Tonight, league-leading Helper and St. George will battle in a doubleheader for the Southern supremacy.
Helper comes in with a perfect 8-0 division record, 1 1/2 games ahead of St. George. That means the Sentinels will have to sweep both ends of the doubleheader to claim the league crown. The two-game set begins at 6 p.m. tonight at Pine View High’s Panther Field.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season,” said Johanson, whose team is 11-10 overall. “There’s a new club team in town, the SBA club, and we lost a few players to them. It was hard on both of us. But their season is over, so we should be at almost full strength for the rest of the year.”
St. George does have three games left against other league foes (Vernal and Price), but both Helper and St. George have dominated those teams, so tonight’s doubleheader will most likely clinch the title for one of the two teams. They met earlier this season in Helper with the Sentinels managing just three hits in a 3-0 loss.
Tobie Swenson pitched well in the loss, giving up just three earned runs and the Hurricane High product has had an excellent summer. Swenson has a 3.53 earned run average from the mound and leads the team with 11 extra-base hits with his bat. He also has 15 RBIs, tying Anthony Cornwall (Moapa Valley) for the team high.
A couple of Pine View players have also starred this summer, with Jarod Stirling and Ryke Erickson both racking up the hits. Stirling is hitting .341 with eight extra base hits and 13 RBIs and Erickson is hitting .338 and leads the team with 22 hits. Erickson has only struck out five times in 74 plate appearances.
The Sentinels, who are coming off an 11-1 drubbing of Roosevelt, will also have Brooks Barney back. He spent most of the summer with SBA. In his only appearance for St. George, he pitched a complete game and allowed just one earned run. Johanson said Barney will likely start the first game of the doubleheader, though the coach was undecided who he would have start the nightcap.
After tonight, the Sentinels have three road games and will play just one more doubleheader at home. Next Wednesday, St. George hosts the Southern Nevada Bulls. The first game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Utah state American Legion playoffs are July 25-26 and will be in Layton.
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