Sentinels fall to Pleasant Grove twice, lose American Legion baseball state title

Tanner Staheli bats in game against Syracuse, Kearns, Utah, July 28, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Longman, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Sentinels fell short in their bid to repeat as American Legion state baseball champions, falling to Pleasant Grove in back-to-back games Wednesday at West Jordan.

The Sentinels had defeated Pleasant Grove 11-8 on Monday night to earn a spot in the finals. Pleasant Grove dropped into the one-loss bracket but handily defeated Salem Hills Tuesday to earn a rematch with St. George the following night.

Wednesday evening’s two title games were oddly similar, with St. George and Pleasant Grove tied 2-2 heading into the sixth inning of both contests. Then, both times, Pleasant Grove scored five runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach. The final scores were 7-3 and 7-2, respectively, as Pleasant Grove took home the state championship trophy.

“Both games, we pitched really well through five innings, and then the wheels came off in the sixth,” Sentinels head coach Shane Johanson told St. George News.

“Pleasant Grove’s pitchers did a good job of feeling us off balance at the plate as hitters,” Johanson added. “In the end, they seemed to want it more than we did.”

Johanson said the Sentinels seemed “flat in the first game, for some reason, perhaps overconfident.”

By winning the first game, Pleasant Grove triggered the “if necessary” second game, as it was St. George’s first loss in the tournament.

“The second game, we fought hard and had a great game, but they had guys step up in big spots at the end, whereas we faltered,” Johanson said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we move on, tip our hat to the other team, and hopefully learn for the future.”

St. George recorded nearly as many hits as Pleasant Grove did over the two games, getting eight hits to PG’s nine in the first game, and both teams getting seven hits apiece the second game. Tanner Staheli led the Sentinels with four hits, three of them in the first game.

Nick Horsley, who came in to pitch in the sixth inning for starter Cannon Secrist, took the loss in the first game. In the second game, Tanner Staheli pitched five innings before being relieved by Cody Riddle, who got the loss. The Sentinels’ finishing pitchers were Alec Flemetakis and Trey Allred, respectively.

Coach Johanson said he was proud of his team, which finished the season with an overall record of 24-7.

“I love these boys,” he said. “They’ve worked hard all summer and they are extremely talented. Most are moving on to college or missions, and they will do exceptional things. These boys merit recognition for practicing and playing in the hot summer months, and for all the travel they endure.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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