ST. GEORGE – Utah’s Dixie is located just about as far as you can go in the southwest corner of the state and is known for National Park access and blistering summers.
Smithfield, on the other hand, is located just about as far as you can go on the northeast end of the Beehive State, and is known for shockingly cold winters and dairy farms. And maybe add baseball to that short list.
The North Cache American Legion team, affectionately known as the Titans by its fans, completed a perfect week at the St. George Summer Classic by defeating the best of St. George Saturday. The team, made up almost entirely of Sky View High School players, defeated the Dixie Pilots 8-5 in the evening semifinals and then topped the St. George Sentinels 6-3 in the Summer Classic championship game.
Todd Phillips, who was just recently hired to coach the Sky View High baseball team, was also making his debut as the North Cache American Legion head coach.
“For our boys coming down from the north, we’re definitely not used to this heat,” Phillips said. “It’s been an awesome week. I’m a brand new coach at Sky View and we got these guys together and didn’t know quite what to expect, especially when we started the year 0-3. They’re starting to come together and they’ve now won eight straight games.”
Five of those eight wins were this week in St. George, with tournament MVP Ryder Lundahl leading the way. Lundahl, a junior-to-be for SVHS, had two homers and five doubles during the five-game tourney. He had three hits against the St. George Sentinels in the championship.
“Our pitching really stepped up in this tournament,” Phillips said. “Our pitchers were always in control, and we also got timely hitting. Ryder, our leadoff hitter, has played really well during the tournament. I guess he likes the heat.”
Phillips also praised pitcher Chris Broadbent, who hurled a complete game against the Sentinels in the finale. He pitched sparingly for the 5A Bobcats in the spring, but his showing this summer has impressed the coaches.
The Titans led 1-0 after Lundahl led off and came around to score in the bottom of the third. St. George tied the game in the top of the fourth as Payton Higgins walked, moved to third on a couple of Broadbent wild pitches, then scored on an RBI by Alec Flemetakis.
But North Cache took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Lundahl had an RBI and Payton Lee and Murdock had base bits as the Titans took a 3-1 advantage.
Perhaps the biggest moment in the game came in the top of the fifth inning. Landon Levine led off with a walk and was moved to second on a sacrifice by Mike Lacy. Jagun Leavitt reached on an error and Trey Allred followed with a single to the left side to make it 3-2 with just one out.
But the Sentinels could not get a breakout hit from their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters and Leavitt and Allred were left on base in scoring position. Those were two of nine men left on base for the Sentinels.
“Pretty frustrating, especially in that situation, with our three and four hitters up,” said St. George coach Shane Johanson. “We left a lot of men on base. We just couldn’t get that timely hit.”
The Titans then put together a three-run rally to take a 6-2 lead. A pair of Sentinel errors and hits by Broadbent and Cooper Kunz pushed the advantage to four.
Cayden Clark singled and Levine doubled as St. George got a run in the sixth, but again couldn’t come up with a big hit. The Sentinels left runners at second and third in the inning, and first and second in the seventh.
Still, a 4-1 week isn’t bad for St. George, which garnered a second-place trophy for its efforts.
“It was a great week for our team,” said Johanson, whose team is now 10-6. “It was disappointing to kind of fade at the end, but I thought we came a long way and had a really, really good tournament. A lot of guys stepped up and I’m proud of them.”
Nick Horsley was named the “hitter of the tournament,” with North Cache’s pitchers also earning awards. The Titans gave up just 19 runs in five victories.
St. George beat Faith Lutheran, from the Las Vegas area, 11-3, in the semifinals. Horsley had a double and a three-run homer for a total of five RBIs in the game.
The Dixie Pilots were the evening semifinal victim of the Tiitans. Dixie had plenty of power as Hobbs Nyberg started the game with a leadoff home run and Chase Lundin had a two-run shot.
But Dixie committed several uncharacteristic errors on the base paths and in the field, eventually succumbing to the Titans 8-4.
Boston Miller, Nyberg’s step-brother, pitched well on short notice. The senior-to-be went five innings and allowed just two earned runs while striking out nine North Cache hitters.
Dixie ends up 3-1 in the Summer Classic and is 7-4 overall in its first season competing as an American Legion team.
The Sentinels host a youth camp Tuesday and Wednesday next week before heading off to the USA Firecracker Classic, a 64-team tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Jun. 29-Jul. 6. They return home Jul. 11 to face Sevier Legion, which is currently in first place in the Utah Southern Region.
The Pilots are off until after the Fourth of July holiday. The two St. George teams meet Jul. 14-15.
ST. GEORGE SUMMER CLASSIC SCORES AND SCHEDULE
6:00 – SBA (13) vs Snow Canyon (12)
8:30 – Jackson (0) vs. St George (10)
9:30 – Cedar (3) vs Lone Peak (8)
9:30 – SBA (4) vs North Cache (6)
6:00 – Eagle AA (20) vs Grandview (21)
6:00 – Jackson (2) vs Cincinnati (10)
6:00 – Cedar (6) Eagle A (3)
6:00 – Helper (2) vs St George (24)
8:30 – Dixie (11) vs Golden (1)
8:30 – Snow Canyon (8) vs North Cache (9)
8:30 – Boise (6) vs SBA (4)
8:30 – Faith Lutheran (10) vs Lone Peak (5)
9:30 – Cincinnati (10) vs Helper (1)
9:30 – Eagle AA (3) vs Golden (14)
9:30 – Grandview (8) vs Dixie (9)
9:30 – Eagle A (9) vs Lone Peak (10)
6:00 – North Cache (2) vs Boise (0)
6:00 – Helper (9) vs Jackson (8)
6:00 – Grandview (6) vs Golden (0)
6:00 – Faith Lutheran (7) vs Cedar (5)
8:30 – Faith Lutheran (6) vs Eagle A (2)
8:30 – Snow Canyon (5) vs Boise (2)
8:30 – Eagle AA (4) vs Dixie (11)
8:30 – Cincinnati (5) vs St George (8)
SEMIFINAL – 6:00 pm – Dixie (4) vs North Cache (8)
SEMIFINAL – 6:00 pm – St. George (11) vs Faith Lutheran (3)
CHAMPIONSHIP – 8:30 pm – North Cache (6) vs St. George (3)
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