SALT LAKE CITY — There hasn’t been a repeat state champion in 2A baseball since 2014, and the trend will most likely continue unless North Sevier gets extremely hot over the next two weeks of the state tournament.
Rebuilding North Sevier went 0-7 against 2A teams ranked in the top five of the most recent Deseret News rankings, which includes getting swept by tournament favorite Gunnison during region play.
Gunnison Valley knows, however, that despite the No. 1 ranking anything can happen as the tournament gets underway this week at four region sites.
“Baseball is a funny game and there are some good teams out there, but we feel like we’re one of those teams. I think we’re ready,” said Gunnison coach Jared Anderson.
Despite only 13 teams in the 2A classification, there’s a bit of unpredictability for Gunnison heading into the playoffs. It only played two 2A teams outside of its own region, wins over second-ranked Milford and fifth-ranked Beaver.
Gunnison has yet to play No. 3 Kanab or No. 4 Enterprise, which adds to the intrigue of the state tournament when their paths inevitably cross.
“The south is definitely the strongest. Those five teams down there have played good baseball throughout the season and kind of beat each other up,” said Anderson.
All 13 teams in 2A qualify for the state tournament. Region champs Duchesne, Gunnison and Milford will host three-game regionals this Saturday — with each region champ getting a first-round bye. The 2A South runner-up Kanab will host the fourth regional, which consists of four teams.
Remaining in the winners bracket after this weekend will be key for any team with realistic title aspirations.
After this weekend the tournament shifts to Dixie State University in St. George next Thursday through Saturday.
Gunnison Valley is led by senior Parx Bartholomew, who is 7-1 on the mound this season. He has plenty of big game experience for the Bulldogs. As a sophomore he was the winner on the mound when Gunnison beat Grand in the 2A championship game. He struck out eight batters in 5 2/3 innings in the title game at Kearns High School.Comment on this story
It takes more than one arm to win a title, and Gunnison has another great one in sophomore Janzen Keisel, who is 6-1 this season. With great hitters and fielders as well, it’s clear why the Bulldogs are the favorite.
“It’s been a real good year, we’re in a good spot and we feel like we’re playing really well and we’re starting to put it all together,” said Anderson.
Milford also has a strong 1-2 punch on the mound with Hunter Willden and Zach Sherwood, with the duo helping the Tigers edge Kanab and Enterprise for the 2A South region title.