High school baseball: Mountain Crest Mustangs hold on to edge rival Grizzlies

Published: Wednesday, May 8 2013 11:43 p.m. MDT

LOGAN — Give the Mustangs plenty of credit for coming up with a gritty effort when lesser teams would've likely just given up or mailed it in.

A day after seeing its Region 5 title hopes crushed with a heartbreaking 4-3 extra-inning loss to cross-county rival Logan, the Mountain Crest baseball team bounced back Wednesday to beat the Grizzlies 9-7 in the league finale for both teams.

"It hurt yesterday," Mustangs first-year coach Alex Hansen said, "when they came out on our field and the way that game played out, that was a tough loss.

"I lost a lot of sleep last night and there was a lot of emotion, so it was definitely nice to come out and get a victory today. It always feels a lot better to win than it does to lose."

This one definitely posed a difficult challenge — in more ways than one.

First, the Mustangs had to re-group following Tuesday's disheartening defeat, which clinched the league crown for Logan.

Then after building an 8-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning in Wednesday's rematch, Mountain Crest (10-5 Region 5, 13-11 overall) squandered almost all of its margin in the bottom half of that frame, as Logan showed its championship mettle by battling back with five runs of its own to pull within a run, 8-7.

Finally, after the two teams were forced to sit through a 35 to 40-minute delay due to the threat of lightning, followed by a brief but mighty damp downpour that drenched Cache Valley, the Mustangs had to take the field again in the sixth inning and find enough grit and gumption to hold on.

Mountain Crest junior left-hander Ben Weese returned to the mound after the wet-and-wild weather delay and got the final six outs to preserve his complete-game victory, in which he allowed eight hits — five of them coming in the fourth inning — and seven runs to go along with eight strikeouts and just one walk.

"It was sloppy," Weese said of his performance. "Usually when I throw a complete game, it's a little smoother than that. That one was kinda like a roller coaster.

"They just put the bat on the ball (in the Grizzlies' five-run fourth). That's all they were doing. They weren't trying to do too much, just going opposite field and everything was going in the gaps. I was glad I was able to recover and get the win."

Junior first baseman Spencer Coombs, who drilled a run-scoring double during Mountain Crest's seven-run outburst in the fifth inning, led off the seventh with a towering solo home run over the left-field fence to give the Mustangs a little more breathing room.

"It was awesome," Coombs said of his blast. "It was a big insurance run and it was just good to get it right off the bat."

Coombs said Wednesday's win was important, coming on the heels of Tuesday's difficult defeat.

"It's the game of baseball — you win some, you lose some," he said. "But to come back and we just knew we had to get this one because this was a big game, a big game.

"We put balls in play, hit balls hard and were getting runs in," he said of the Mustangs' big fourth-inning rally and the Grizzlies' subsequent response. "It's frustrating but Logan's a good team and you knew they would come back with some fire in the bottom half of the inning. You've just got to get ahold of that and make sure it doesn't get too out of hand."

Coombs and Hansen each complimented Weese on his gritty complete-game effort.

"Ben's a great pitcher," Coombs said. "He's our ace and we know that he can finish games and he's great."

"Ben's a gamer," Hansen said. "He wants the ball. He wants to be out there. And he doesn't want to come out of the game.

"As a pitcher, it's hard with the long rain delay. Sometimes you don't want to sit 'em for too long because it's not good on their arm. But luckily we were able to get back out on the field and he was able to finish strong for us. He did an excellent job.

"We sent some guys down there in the bullpen to warm up," Hansen said of Logan's big fourth-inning rally. "It's a fragile situation. You don't want to pull a guy too early, but yet if you leave him in one pitch too long, sometimes it can cost you. It's a hard determination to make sometimes."

Jack Godfrey's second-inning sacrifice fly brought home Scott Henderson, who had singled, with the game's first run for Mountain Crest.

Logan (11-4 Region 5, 15-10 overall) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second when Michael Hart singled; TJ Booth banged an RBI double into the left-center gap; and Brayden Richardson brought home the second run with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt.

In the Mountain Crest fourth, back-to-back walks and Coombs' double tied it at 2-2, and Luke Smith lined an RBI single for a 3-2 lead. Anthony Peterson's single, two more walks, a throwing error, a wild pitch and a hit batter brought home three more runs. Kaden Lindley's infield hit made it 7-2, and Godfrey's groundout scored another run for a seemingly safe 8-2 lead.

But in the Logan half of the fourth, Zack Rich led off with a double and, after a fielder's choice in which Rich was called safe on a close play at third base, Booth's run-scoring single made it 8-3. Another run scored on a wild pitch, and a base on balls was followed by Richardson's two-run double down the right-field line. Two outs later, Isaac Rhea smacked a run-scoring single to cap the five-run rally and pull Logan within one run, 8-7.

"That's the game of baseball," Hansen said. "You know, sometimes it's almost a disadvantage to go out and have a big lead because it's hard to maintain constant focus, but that's what a team needs to do.

"When we go out and we've got a six-run lead, the best thing we can do is come out and have a 1-2-3 inning and come back to the plate and just continue putting the pressure back on them. But unfortunately, we came out and gave up a five spot and that brought 'em right back in it."

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com

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