KEARNS The number 13 didn't provide the Spartans with any bad luck on Thursday.
In fact, it was the Spartans' magic number in their 13-0 win over Tooele in the American Legion state tournament at Oquirrh Park. The Spartans put up 13 runs and sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, and pitcher Ryan Matson recorded 13 strikeouts.
An even more important number from Thursday's game is three, as the Spartans clinched a top-three finish with the victory. Since losing to Cyprus on Saturday, the Spartans, a team comprised of graduated players from Murray and Olympus, have won four straight games and could clinch a berth in the state championship game with a win over tournament frontrunner Taylorsville tonight.
"This is the farthest we've been in any state tournament," said Spartans leftfielder Chris Grandinetti, a 2007 Murray graduate. "Better late than never, huh? It's the last time we can do it. It's a good feeling."
The Spartans have been feeling it at the plate since Saturday. They have averaged 14 runs per game during their hot streak and don't plan on letting up against the Warriors.
"We've all been seeing it well," Grandinetti said. "We're looking forward to T-Ville. We got killed (by Taylorsville during the regular season), so we're looking for revenge."
The Spartans have a realistic shot at pulling off the upset tonight if their bats stay hot. Against Tooele, the Spartans sent 11 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs in the first inning before Tooele recorded an out. Josh Sturges hit a three-run home run to put the Spartans on the scoreboard, and No. 9 hitter Justin Davis blasted a three-run triple to put the game out of reach before Tooele got the chance to bat.
Sturges has been as hot as shadeless Oquirrh Park this week. He hit for the cycle in the Spartans' victory over Roy on Monday. He went 3-for-3 on Thursday. The only way Tooele could prevent him from getting hits was by hitting him with pitches. And it did it twice.
"It hurts, but as long as I get on base and Chris (Grandinetti) hits me around that's all that matters," Sturges said.
Matson had little trouble with Tooele's lineup. He gave up four hits, and allowed just two runners to advance past second base.
"It was nice to get on the mound and just shut them down right off the bat," Matson said. "It's a lot better when you have run support."
In the other game on Thursday:CYPRUS 1, BLACKSMITH FORK 0: Cyprus pitcher Taylor Jones had a spectacular performance, as he threw a complete nine-inning game. He tossed a two-hitter and recorded 10 strikeouts. He also had the game's lone RBI, driving in teammate Brock Moltz with a single in the third inning.
Today's game at Oquirrh Park, Kearns
Taylorsville vs. Spartans, 7 p.m.
at Gates Field, Kearns
Cyprus vs. Taylorsville-Spartans winner, 2 p.m.Note: If Taylorsville loses tonight or in the 2 p.m. game on Saturday, a true championship game will be played at 5 p.m.