TOOELE In the last eight years, Bear River and Tooele developed a storied rivalry that included two 3A titles for the Bears and four 3A championships for the Buffalo. So when Tooele moved to 4A this season the only question for the two head coaches was who would host their first non-region meeting.
"We know they have a good team, and we wanted to keep that rivalry going," said Tooele coach Barry Pitt after the top-ranked Buffalo defeated 3A's top-ranked Bears 9-0 Thursday. "He lost the coin toss, so he had to play out here."
Pitt was happy about many aspects of Thursday's win, but most importantly was his team's consistency.
"We got a hit in every inning," he said with a smile.
The Buffalo started the game hitting with Matison Snow's single to left field. She earned an extra base on a fielding error and then scored on Kelsey Mendenhall's single. Neither team scored in the second or third innings, but in the fourth inning, Tooele nearly made it through its entire lineup. Again, it was Snow that got the offense started with a triple to left centerfield. Two walks loaded the bases and then Brittany Gonzales hit a line-drive down the third base line that barely stayed fair and drove in all three base runners.
Mendenhall scored when Whitnie Holt hit a single two batters later. In the fifth inning, the Buffalo scored the remainder of their nine runs when Gonzales scored on a passed ball and then Lauren Folta, Whitnie Holt and Marissa Mendenhall scored on Marissa Mendenhall's home run over the left field fence.
Folta earned the win, pitching against a team that has never been able to beat Tooele with her in the circle.
"We've got a good team, but we didn't show it today," said Bears coach Calvin Bingham. "I think there is a little bit of a mental block there ... We've never beaten Folta."
The Bears pitcher Josi Summers, just a sophomore, threw a pretty good game, but three fielding errors cost the Bears.
"I think Josi has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the state," Bingham said. "Before today, she had an .11 ERA, and that's the best we've ever had from someone at Bear River in my eight years."
Snow ended up with a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate as the Buffalo continue to show they can play with the best teams, regardless of classification. Pitt said the team is enjoying the new 4A rivalries, but wishes they'd been able to fly under the radar just a little longer."It's different," he said of 4A. "It's something new to go after, but I didn't like the target being on us right away. I was hoping everyone would leave us alone, and let us make that climb to the top of the hill."