Scott Stokes delivers a pitch to home plate on Thursday night at Utah Valley University. Christopher Reeves/Park Record
Scott Stokes delivers a pitch to home plate on Thursday night at Utah Valley University. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

Brent Brown Ballpark.

That's where the Park City High School baseball team saw its 2013 season come to an end.

On Thursday night, the Miners were once again on the field at Utah Valley University in Orem with their season on the line. After a close 2-1 loss to Spanish Fork at Brent Brown Ballpark last year, the Miners were again playing in the 3A one-loss bracket, this time against Canyon View.

This time around, Park City was desperate to exorcise its demons.

Earlier in the day, Chandler Anderson pitched seven solid innings for the Miners at the Spanish Fork Complex against Juab, earning a 6-2 victory and keeping his team's hopes alive.

Then, the action moved to UVU, where ace Scott Stokes took the mound for Park City. After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Stokes wasted no time getting the Miners back in the game.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, he came to the plate with Chandler Barkdull on second base and Blake Morin on first. Stokes walloped a double to the wall, scoring both base runners.

For the next five innings, the game moved quickly, neither pitcher giving an inch.

Then disaster struck for Park City. After getting two base runners on with only one out in the bottom of the sixth, Ian Moritz hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop. Jack Lecher, who was running for Jeff Fifer after Fifer smacked a single, slid hard into second base.


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Though it was a seemingly legal baseball play, the umpires ruled that Lecher slid past the base to hit the Canyon View second baseman and thus ruled Lecher and Moritz out on the play, killing the Park City rally.

Heading into the seventh inning, the speaker system in the stadium played the song "The Great Escape" by Boys Like Girls. With the heart of the Canyon View batting order scheduled to hit in the top of the seventh, it looked like the Miners would indeed need to pull off a great escape to keep their season from ending.

Jack Lecher slides hard into second base to break up a double play on Thursday night at Utah Valley University. Umpires ruled Lecher slid past the bag,
Jack Lecher slides hard into second base to break up a double play on Thursday night at Utah Valley University. Umpires ruled Lecher slid past the bag, awarding Canyon View a controversial double play. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

After Anderson made a superb diving catch to record the first out in the top of the seventh, trouble came for Park City. A single, two doubles and an error made the score 3-2 Canyon View.

But Park City had the top of its order coming up in the bottom half of the seventh. Barkdull started things off with a double to right field. Griffin Churich laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to third. Then Anderson delivered a double of his own, tying the game and putting himself in scoring position in the process.

Canyon View then opted to intentionally walk Morin to get to Stokes. Stokes popped a ball to shallow right field, but it managed to land perfectly between the first baseman, second baseman and right fielder.

That brought Jaxon Hermansen to the plate. Hermansen had grounded out, popped up and struck out in his first three at-bats, but this time, with the bases loaded and the game on the line, he smacked a ground ball to the second baseman. As Canyon View hustled to turn a double play, Hermansen sprinted down the line.

When he crossed first base a step ahead of the throw from the shortstop, he kept sprinting all the way out to right field. After crossing the plate to give Park City the dramatic 4-3 win, Anderson led his teammates as they chased down Hermansen to celebrate.

"I knew that I had to get the ball in the air - that's what I was trying to do, at least," Hermansen said. "That little chopper to second ended up working out though."

Was that the fastest he's ever run?

"Yeah, by far," he laughed.

From left, Blake Morin, Griffin Churich and Jaxon Hermansen celebrate Hermansen s walk-off fielder s choice on Thursday night at Utah Valley University.
From left, Blake Morin, Griffin Churich and Jaxon Hermansen celebrate Hermansen s walk-off fielder s choice on Thursday night at Utah Valley University. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

Park City coach Lou Green said he definitely appreciated Hermansen's hustle.

"He's not the fastest runner that we have, that's for sure," he said. "But he put his head down and got after it. He got it done and his old man's [an assistant coach] crying in the dugout. It's a beautiful thing."

Green said he had a good feeling about the seventh inning, even after Canyon View scored.

"When I took my last visit to the mound when they took the lead 3-2, I told Scott, 'Listen, we've got our best hitters coming up and you can get out of this jam pretty easily,'" he said. "Maybe I was the only guy in the park who felt like this, but I was 100 percent comfortable with our 1-2-3 hitters up needing two runs. You see what Barkdull and Anderson did - two doubles in the gap. Honestly, there was never a doubt in my mind that we were going to score a run. I didn't know if we were going to score two, though."

"I'm so shocked that we came back and won that game," Stokes added. "But Coach Green always says good teams never quit. We didn't quit tonight."

With the win, Park City advanced to play Region 10 rival Juan Diego in an elimination game on Friday afternoon (after this issue went to press). Should Park City advance, it would play a second game Friday and then the state championship game would be held Saturday.

No matter what would happen on Friday, Green said he couldn't even begin to describe how proud he is of this year's team.

"No matter what happens, it's been an absolute pleasure coaching this group," he said. "I've never been around a group of kids who have believed in our system more, who have believed in each other more. Unless someone has experienced this kind of atmosphere, when a team comes together, it's just indescribable. It's like magic.

"I'm blessed to coach these kids in such a good community."