Third-seeded Sentinels set to defend state American Legion baseball title

Trey Allred of the St. George Sentinels batting during a game earlier this season at Pine View High School, St. George, Utah, June 22, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Sentinels American Legion baseball team went 2-1 in the opening round of the state playoffs last weekend, thereby advancing to the state finals, which run from July 27-Aug. 1 in Salt Lake County.

St. George started off with a 12-2 win over Roosevelt in its first-round game July 20 at Pleasant Grove. Roosevelt led 2-1 after two innings, but the Sentinels scored four runs in the third and three more in the fourth to build a sizable lead. The game ended after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. Dawson Staheli went 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs. Cody Riddle went the distance on the mound and picked up the pitching victory, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out five.

The Sentinels next played Helper on Saturday, July 21 at Pleasant Grove. The Helper team came from three runs behind in the bottom of the last inning to win its game, 6-5.

“We were cruising in that game with Cannon Secrist throwing the best I’ve seen him all year,” said Sentinels head coach Shane Johanson, who noted that St. George had a 4-0 lead heading into the sixth inning. Alec Flemetakis hit a home run for the Sentinels early in the game.

“But he (Secrist) started to get a little tired and they scratched across two runs,” Johanson added. “We responded with one run on Jagun Leavitt stealing home in the top of the seventh to make it 5-2.”

However, Helper started off the bottom of the seventh placing baserunners via a hit by pitch and a walk, after which Helper made a couple key hits to walk off with the win.

The unexpected loss dropped St. George into a consolation matchup against Springville on the Red Devils’ home field.

We were pretty stunned after that and played very lackluster against Springville,” Johanson said. “But we did just enough to win in the bottom of the eighth to advance with our lives.”

The Springville game was a low-scoring affair, with the teams heading into extra innings tied 1-1. Springville scored a run in the top of the eighth, putting pressure on the Sentinels.

In the bottom of the eighth, Secrist drove in the game-tying run to make it 2-2, after which Trey Allred hit a line drive to deep center, scoring Flemetakis, who tagged up from third for the game-ending run.

Johanson said his team is looking forward to putting last weekend’s less-than-stellar performance behind them as the state’s top eight teams (four from the North division and four from the South) prepare to face off at the double-elimination finals to decide the Utah American Legion state title.

“Now we get a reset and start fresh on Friday.”

The Sentinels are the defending state champions. In 2017, St. George lost to North Cache by one run in the opening round at state, only to come back and win six straight games in decisive fashion, including beating Pleasant Grove twice in the finals.

As the No. 3 seed from the south,the Sentinels (now 21-5 overall) will face North Cache, the North’s No. 2 seed, at 5 p.m. Friday at Gates Field in Kearns. Additional games in the tournament will be played Friday and Saturday in Kearns, with the action moving to Salt Lake Community College for the later rounds. Click here for full bracket. Admission is $8 per person per day, with children 12 and under and military veterans admitted free.

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