Miners learn humbling lesson ahead of state playoffs
Park City drops first game against East in final regular-season series
Towards the end of a dream regular season, Park City High School’s baseball team had a nightmare of a game against East on Monday.
East has had its struggles this year, sporting a 2-19 record heading into its series with Park City this week. Only one of those wins was in region play. On the other hand, Park City has had a strong regular season, despite coming off a series loss to Olympus.
But in the series opener against the Leopards, nothing went the Miners’ way. Park City’s pitchers struggled on the mound, the Miners’ defense committed several errors and their offense couldn’t make up for it. Park City dropped the first game 13-10, giving the Miners a valuable lesson right before the state playoffs.
“I’m going to tell them this when they get on the bus – there’s two types of people in the world: people that are humble or people that are about to be,” Park City coach David Feasler said. “And I feel like we got humbled a little bit today. They were better than us in Game 1 – give them credit. They played better, they were cleaner, they made plays, they pitched. It’s humbling a little bit, and I hope it’s a good experience for these guys because it’s a life lesson going into the playoffs.”
Monday was supposed to be a doubleheader, though the second game was suspended due to darkness. Before the game was halted, Park City built itself a double-digit lead and was well on its way to a redeeming win. The Miners feel that they have grown a lot over the course of the season, and Monday was another reminder that they still have some more to do.
“I thought today was somewhat humbling and that we need to look at the game as we are here to play the game and not so much the opponent,” senior Topher Maulding said. “But I think it’s one where we as a team grow and realize certain things.”
Monday’s lessons aside, Park City has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround this year after a 9-19 season last year, its first full year in Class 5A. The Miners enjoyed some success in Class 3A and Class 4A in previous years, but they’ve become one of the top teams in Class 5A in 2022.
“We really have nothing to lose this year, I think that’s a big part of it,” junior Dave Georger said. “We’re just coming out here and having fun, and I think that’s going to get us pretty deep into the playoffs.”
Park City started the season on the right foot at a tournament in St. George, winning three of its four games. That tournament gave the Miners some confidence heading into the rest of their schedule this year.
“It really boosted our team morale in ways that we never saw last season, and I think that made a major difference in our whole season so far,” Maulding said. “I’ve seen guys really step up to the plate and make major differences on the team that were not present, and it’s really awesome to see that.
“I think that the games that we won down in St. George kind of opened us up to show us, like, ‘Hey, we’re a team that can compete against some of the best teams in the state, some of the best arms, guys that are committed to big schools. So what? We are a team that can play against those guys.’”
That confidence turned into a 5-2 record in non-region play, and Park City wins in its final two non-region games were the start of an eight-game winning streak that included sweeps of its first two series against Region 6 opponents.
For all of the talk about growth this season, the Miners have seen a lot of improvement from their junior class. Players like Braxton Lyon, Paxton Mobley, Asher Levine and Will Bradley had playing time last year as sophomores, but they’ve all taken a big step this year.
Lyon has been one of Park City’s best hitters this season and a reliable arm on the mound, while Levine has been a lights-out closer for the Miners. Additionally, Mobley has taken a big leap as a hitter with a team-high seven home runs ahead of this week’s games, and Bradley has been a reliable fielder.
“They’ve really come along as a class,” Feasler said. “Those are the leaders within this group, and the seniors do a good job, too. But yeah, that’s a good class.”
Feasler added that his only expectation for the state playoffs is for his team to compete on every pitch. The Miners aren’t putting extra pressure on themselves to perform in the playoffs.
“I’m trying to go in with no expectations,” Georger said. “It doesn’t really matter what team we play. We’re going to play our game and get some wins.”
Park City will always have a reputation for being a ski town. But Park City is trying to make a name for itself as a baseball town as well. The Miners will be doing their best to continue competing at all times, and Monday served as another reminder of how important that is. That’s part of the recipe that has made them so successful so far.
“It’s a great group of guys to play with,” Maulding said. “Even when we have losses, they make the game fun to play. We’re in it until the very last pitch, and it’s really something that we never really saw last year. And this year, we’re in it to win it.”
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