OREM Gunnison's 10-0, five-inning victory over Richfield in Saturday's 2A state championship baseball game gave the Bulldogs their second consecutive title.
And according to the many players who were involved in both championships, the second was even sweeter than the first.
"It is just an amazing feeling to go out on top," said senior shortstop Max Sanders. "Both were great, but knowing that I played my last game for Gunnison by winning a state championship will be something that I take with me the rest of my life."
"This one is even more rewarding," said junior center fielder Heston Neal. "We had to go through the year with a target on our back.
"It was hard to win the first one, but even harder to win this one. We took everybody's best shot because they were trying to knock us off, and to know that we took that and still came out as the champs is just incredible."
The Bulldogs relied heavily on their senior class, the six players who brought their team to the title game for three straight seasons. Kevin Nay, Bradley Jackson, Jaden Hill, Jace Anderson, Taylor Newman and Sanders had the experience and talent to not only raise the bar of expectations, but to live up to it as well.
"I can't say enough about those guys," said coach Jared Anderson. "They have been so big in bringing the winning tradition to this team.
"It all started really three years ago with that group, and they have done everything and anything that we have asked of them. They are leaders, talented players and great teammates. I can't express in words what they mean."
Gunnison got it done on the field in typical fashion. While the offense manufactured nine runs in the third inning on an array of timely hits, walks and hit batsmen, it was Nay, the reigning 2A MVP, who took care of business on the hill for the Bulldogs. Considering he had only one day of rest after throwing a one-hitter against South Sevier in the winners' bracket semifinals on Thursday, his three-hit performance Saturday at UVSC was truly remarkable.
"Truthfully, it took me until about the third inning to start having my arm feel loose," Nay said. "But there was no way I wasn't going to go out there and give everything I had in my last high school game."
His coach said it was even more than just a performance like his 4 2/3 innings with three hits, five strikeouts, two walks and no runs allowed that made Nay special.
"There is no doubt that Kevin is the MVP," said Anderson. "All season he set a standard, an example, and the rest of the guys were forced to keep up. He was our all-everything guy. Whatever we needed out of him we got."
The Bulldogs' second ace that's what Anderson said, "We didn't have a No. 1 and No. 2, we had two guys that could pitch for us" was Bradley Jackson, who came in to close the game and got the last out on one pitch, putting the team and Gunnison faithful into a frenzy."Coach promised me I would get to throw in the championship game," Bradley said. "It was just one out, but winning this a second time and getting to throw like that, this is the greatest feeling of my life."
MVP: Kevin Nay, Gunnison
Bradley Jackson, Gunnison
Jace Anderson, Gunnison
Max Sanders, Gunnison
Jesse Hartle, Richfield
Justin Johnson, Richfield
Nathan Roberts, S. Sevier
Tyson Lynn, Juab
Peyton Jesus, Kanab
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