Blake Morin races around third base during a game earlier this season. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
Blake Morin races around third base during a game earlier this season. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

The road to the state title got a lot tougher for the Park City High School baseball team over the weekend. But, the important thing for the Miners is they're still in the hunt.

In St. George this weekend for the opening two games of the 3A state playoffs at Desert Hills High School, the Miners got off to a good start in game one against Bear River.

Ranked No. 4 in 3A baseball by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Miners battled hard against Bear River, the No. 5 team in 3A.

With Scott Stokes on the mound, the Miners got some bad luck a tailor-made double-play ball bouncing off the umpire's foot and into the outfield, for example but they managed to hold off their opponents and advance via an 8-6 victory.

"It was definitely a dogfight," Park City coach Lou Green said. "They were exactly what I thought they'd be. They had a No. 1 pitcher who threw strikes all day."

But a big day from Parker Smith helped Park City stay a couple runs ahead on the scoreboard.

"Parker Smith gets a two-out knock in the first inning to put us up 2-0," Green said. "Then he came back up in the fifth inning and executed a squeeze bunt for us those were two big points in the game."

Chandler Barkdull provided his fair share of offense as well, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run.

The key to the game, according the Green, was Stokes. Park City's ace hadn't pitched in a couple weeks due to an injury. But, despite a couple unlucky plays behind him, he kept his composure and picked up the complete-game victory.

"The biggest thing for us was Scott Stokes' ability to stick in there," Green said. "Scott really handled the adversity well. I had to go out and talk to him to settle him down a bit once. But then he came out in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and threw three really nice frames."

The win gave the Miners a chance to play Desert Hills and escape with a 2-0 record from the toughest playoff bracket in the state.

But Desert Hills, the No. 1 team in 3A according to the Salt Lake Tribune, had other plans. The host school handed Park City an 8-2 loss, via an outstanding pitching effort.

"I knew Desert Hills had a really nice No. 1 and he was everything as advertised and then some," Green said. "He was in the 88-93 [mph] range. We haven't seen anything like that all year. We scheduled all those 4A and 5A schools trying to see guys like that, but we just hadn't so far this year."

Though Chandler Anderson went 2-for-3 with a home run and Blake Morin had a couple line drives that just so happened to be right at defenders, Green said the rest of the squad couldn't catch up.

"We had a tough time matching up with him," he said. "The back half of our lineup was a little up and down, a little overmatched by his velocity."

And, while Morin battled on the mound, a four-run first inning was all Desert Hills needed to hold off the Miners.

Park City advanced to the next round of the double-elimination playoffs. The Miners will square off against Juab on Thursday at the Spanish Fork Complex. That game is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.

Green said he's looking forward to seeing how the Miners respond to the Desert Hills loss. In a game on March 18, Park City picked up an 8-3 win against Juab.

"March was a long time ago, but it should be a good matchup for us," he said. "I'm excited to see how our kids get up off the mat."

If the Miners win the first game Thursday, they'll play at 7 p.m. at Utah Valley University in Orem.