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TAYLORSVILLE — Utah high school baseball teams must be mighty glad that, when it comes time to face the Taylorsville Warriors next season, they'll no longer be seeing double.
As in double trouble.
As in the Carroll twins, Dallas and Dalton, two shining diamond stars who have terrorized Region 2 opponents for the past couple of years and will be taking their talents up on the hill to play for the University of Utah next season.
Dalton Carroll, the Warriors' outstanding pitcher/outfielder, batted a robust .467 with three home runs, eight doubles and two triples while posting an 8-2 record on the mound with a glistening earned-run average of 1.11.
Dallas Carroll — Dalton's "younger" brother by two minutes — primarily played shortstop this season and also spent some time on the pitching mound after enduring some issues with his elbow as a junior. This year, he batted leadoff and hit .412 with two homers, 12 doubles and three triples. His Taylorsville coach, Jake Brown, proudly hails him as "the best defensive shortstop in the state — by a lot."
Trying to pick one Carroll over the other is like trying to choose between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini — hey, you just can't lose either way — but Dallas was voted team MVP by his Taylorsville teammates this season. And, after helping lead the Warriors to a runner-up showing in the 5A state tournament, he's being honored as this year's Mr. Baseball by the Desert News.
"It's an honor," Dallas said, sincerely humbled by the award. "I know that a lot of kids in the state could've won it, so it's a big honor to be named Mr. Baseball.
"Dalton was happy for me, my whole family was, and I would be happy for him if he won it, too.
"He's a lot better pitcher than me," Dallas said of his twin brother. "We're both good hitters; he's more of a power hitter and I'm more of an on-base kind of guy. He's real good in the field, too, and much more dominant on the mound."
When he begins his collegiate career at Utah next season, Dallas will play in the outfield, while Dalton will pitch for the Utes.
"I'm excited to go up there next year," Dallas said. "I'm just glad I got the chance to play at the next level. We get to play together again next year and in the the years to come, so it continues for us."
Taylorsville took the Region 2 title with a 14-1 record and wound up going 24-8 overall this season. The Warriors reached the finals of the 5A tournament and knocked off American Fork, 6-2, in the morning game on the final day of the tournament, with Dallas drilling a double on the first pitch of the game and scoring two runs in the victory.
That forced a second winner-take-all game between the two teams, where the Cavemen rallied for a 5-4 win to claim the 5A crown.
"I was pretty disappointed we didn't win it," Dallas said. "Everybody was disappointed, just pushing that strong and coming up just a couple of innings short.
"At the same time, no one expected us to get that far. I feel that after losing that first game to Alta the way we did and then coming back the way we did, we could say we over-achieved, especially by playing in the loser's bracket and beating the teams we had to play.
"From the beginning, everyone was on the same page with us trying to win the state championship."
Earlier in the week, Carroll crushed a go-ahead, two-run homer in an elimination game against defending 5A champion Bingham, helping propel the Warriors to a tense 5-4 win.
"That whole last week of the state tournament has probably been the best week of my baseball career," Dallas said. "Hitting that home run in the game against Bingham to put us up by one run was the best highlight, not only this year but of my whole high school career."
Coach Brown not only proudly proclaimed Dallas as the best defensive shortstop in the state, but credited the young man with being the team's key catalyst, a guy that continually got things started for the Warriors time after time.
"He set the pace for our team," Brown said. "He played shortstop, so he was our leader and solidified our team on the defensive end. Offensively, he was our leadoff hitter, and we started a lot of games going up 1-0 in the first inning because he started with a leadoff double and came around and scored. He really set the pace for everything that we do.
"Off the field and in practice situations, he's a lead-by-example type of player. He's very humble, and it's easy for us as coaches when our best player is as committed and works real hard like Dallas does. It's pretty hard for anybody else to take it easy in practice or in a game situation when our best player is also our hardest worker.
"He's well prepared for baseball at the next level because of that. He knows it's a competition, he knows nothing is going to be handed to him, he know he's going to have to keep that same work ethic," the Warriors' coach said. "He believes in that blue-collar type stuff where you put in full day's work and you earn what you keep."
Brown said Dallas' dynamic performance both offensively and defensively that earned him the Wolverines' team MVP award.
"Our players picked that because it seems like he's always in the middle of a big defensive play or a big offensive play for us," Brown said. "When we're struggling to score runs, he's the one that gets us going. When we're struggling on the mound or in the field, he's the one who makes the big play for us. He comes through in that situation time after time, and players remember that. There's a certain amount of comfort in being a teammate of his, knowing he's gonna come through for you in that situation.
"It seems like, especially in our state tournament run, we were starting out 1-0 a lot and got something going immediately a lot of the time because of Dallas. We're losing 1-0 to Bingham and Brady Lail is pitching, and Dallas comes up to bat and hits that two-run homer and gives us the lead. In our first game against American Fork, Dallas walks up to the plate in the first inning and laces a double and pretty soon we're up 1-0, and it's easy for the rest of the team to see that and feed off of that. There were too many stories like that for us this year to go unnoticed.
"If it's the bottom of seventh and we're up one run, we want the ball hit to Dallas. He's an ultra-competitive player," Brown said. "A lot of players are not great in that situation, but he's great in that situation. He's that guy that excels in that pressure situation."
Brown looks at Carroll's Mr. Baseball selection as something the entire Taylorsville program should be very proud of.
"Our entire team would be overwhelmingly excited for Dallas," Brown said. "We look at it as a team award, and we're excited for him to be Mr. Baseball and the player of the year in the state of Utah. I share that award with him as his coach, and our team shares that award with him as if it was our team winning the award.
"We had eight seniors that were incredible, who played an incredible leadership role for us and took our program to the next level, and we're going to miss all of them."
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