Park City moves on in baseball playoffs
For the last two weeks, the Park City High school boys baseball team has been focused on the first round of the playoffs.
They knew they would have to win at least one game in the double elimination first round and that one of their opponents would likely be the undefeated, Region 10 champion Bulldogs, Park City’s biggest rival in any sport. That meant that the boys would have to be determined and play as a team to get past first-round opponent Emery, so they wouldn’t have to face the difficult task of beating Judge.
The Miners kept a consistent lead throughout their Saturday morning game against Emery, eventually beating them, 10-5, at the St. Ann’s Field in Salt Lake.
Park City was led by Scott Neuenschwander who turned in a two-run homer on two outs in the game. In fact, somehow, two outs seemed to be the magic number for the Miners. Eight of Park city’s 10 runs were scored when they had two outs.
"In my time here, I’ve never seen that before," said Park City head coach Howard Hoyt.
Dakota Matherly pitched through the first five innings and Austin Molinaro got the save, finishing out the game.
Against Judge, The Miners came with a plan to throw off-speed pitches and keep them on their toes for as long as they could. The planned worked — for three inning –putting Park City up one run to nothing. Then the golden arm of Judge’s Division I-bound Joe Pond took its toll on the Miners. They faltered offensively and were unable to score the rest of the game. In the meantime, the Bulldog’s Cort Zollinger logged three home runs and Judge pulled ahead for the 12-1 victory.
The loss will send Park City to the losers’ bracket, but Hoyt says this is the route the team was prepared to take to the finals. Although it means more games, it means the Miners will face a number of teams they have already played and many of whom they have beaten.
"We’re very capable of fueling through the losers’ bracket," Hoyt said.
Their first challenge will be Grantsville on Thursday at Copper Hills High School at 11 a.m. If they win that one, it will be Region 10 opponent Union or Carbon the next day. After that, the next team will likely be Wasatch, another region team.
"We’re seeing all teams we’ve beaten or can beat," Hoyt said optimistically. "I like the way that things are setting up. It doesn’t give our guys over-confidence, but they don’t go in intimidated."
Hoyt said that he plans to take advantage of his deep pitching staff with so many prospective games. He hopes to use his usual starters in the first three innings and then switch to some of his younger pitchers to help instill more confidence in them.
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Gov. Cox announced that the state’s mask mandate in schools would end for the last week of classes. Park City School District officials strongly recommended that students continue to wear masks. South Summit officials anticipated they would not require masks for the final week.