It's been a while since the Park City High School baseball team last took the field for an actual game.
Due to a scheduling error, in which the Miners had one more game on their schedule than allowed by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), Park City was forced to forfeit its last two Region 10 games one against Union and one against Juan Diego that would have decided the region title.
But the season isn't over for the Miners, who, despite the forfeits, finished with the No. 2 seed in Region 10. That means they'll head to Desert Hills High School in St. George on Saturday for their first-round playoff games.
In Park City's first game, the Miners will square off against Bear River at 10 a.m. In the other first-round game, host Desert Hills takes on Richfield at 12:30 p.m.
Though he anticipates winning game one and facing Desert Hills in the winners' bracket, Park City coach Lou Green said the Miners can't get caught looking past Bear River.
"They're 18-5 and they returned their number one pitcher from last year," he said. "I think they're going to be very, very similar to us. It'll be a dog fight, but we'll be ready to go."
Senior Blake Morin is scheduled to take the mound against Bear River, with junior Scott Stokes taking the hill in game two.
After missing a couple weeks with a back injury, Green said Stokes, Park City's ace, is ready to go.
"He's fully recovered," he said. "He's thrown twice in our intra-squad games this week.
The losers from the first two games will play an elimination game at 3 p.m. and the two winners will face off at 5:30 p.m. Three teams will advance from the weekend of play, with only the team that loses both its games being eliminated.
If the Miners are able to advance past Bear River, Green anticipates one of the toughest games of the year against Desert Hills.
"They've got two pitchers who are both really good, so it doesn't matter a whole lot which one we see," he said.
But, based on Park City's tough schedule this season, Green thinks his squad will be ready for the challenge.
"All those good teams we've played, this is why," he said. "When we beat Juan Diego, we played our best game. When we beat Skyline, Cottonwood and Hurricane, we played our best games. It's going to take another effort like those to beat Desert Hills."
A big key for this weekend will be the Miners' health. From Morin to Stokes to Chandler Barkdull to Griffin Churich to Parker Smith, nearly all of the Miners' top players have experienced lingering injuries this season.
But, heading into this weekend's playoff opener, Green said his team is feeling good.
"We should be 100 percent healthy and ready to go," he said. "Barkdull has been banged up as a catcher. Blake had a knee deal, a hamstring injury and an elbow deal. Scott's 100 percent again. Parker Smith broke his nose at Union, but he's doing OK and should be ready. For the first time in a while, we'll be able to put our nine or 10 best guys out there and they'll all be healthy."
Additionally, Green hopes the scheduling mistake he made serves as a motivational factor for the playoffs.
"It's my mistake, not anyone else's," he said. "It just sucks for the kids. They were pretty letdown with that, as all of us were. But hopefully it has added a little fuel to the fire."