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After sluggish season start, Buffalos regain momentum in annual Jeff Wood Memorial Tournament

The Valley Buffalos’ season opener on August second was a dismal rain-threatened 10-3 drubbing at home versus the far more experienced bats of the Badgers from Wayne County. Forgettable, but for the resolve of the rookie-laden squad’s determination to improve their lot.

Left to right, photos by Jerry Melrose:

  • Star hurler Ivan Spencer fingers his fastball during his wind-up motion as Closer in the 7-5 win for Starter Hogan Harris vs. Altamont toward their ultimate Consolation Bracket victory.

  • Pitcher Boede Cox helping his own cause heading home from third base for the score in his 4-2 win over Bryce Valley to claim #5 in the Jeff Wood Memorial Tournament.

The annual Jeff Wood Memorial Baseball Tournament held on Friday-Saturday had the hosts battling American Fork’s American Heritage Patriots in their second error-prone loss, 8-5. Down, but not to be denied, they fought back in their afternoon’s ‘do-or die’ decisive, 7-5, drive over the Altamont Longhorns to make it into Saturday’s Consolation Bracket, already set to be against the Bryce Valley Mustangs. Sophomore spark-plug starter Hogan Harris claimed the win, which was ensured by closer Ivan Spencer.

Following the day’s action, veteran senior team leader, Ivan Spencer, who had already scored five leadoff runs in three games, offered his early considerations. “So, we started off rough this morning. Losing always sucks! But I feel like we came back today, we didn’t let them score any more. I feel like as a team, we are growing a lot, and props to Hogan; he pitched a great game, just barely. And then, ‘props’ to Holden [Harris, freshman], he was a great catcher just all day today. And I feel that he hardly had any errors, if that. And then, Johnny [Cox, senior]: ‘props’ to him, [his] third game ever! And he’s just hitting the ball great. He’s had multiple RBI’s this year. And I feel like that he’s really gonna excel the rest of the season. And just ‘props’ to everybody else for just coming back doing what they need to: just making plays when they need to make plays. And there is stuff that we need to work on, but we got all season. This is the third game though; so, I think we got it.” In agreement, Hogan added, “I feel like we can do a bit more. I feel like we’ve not really compounded like a ball team. I feel like today we decided we’re a ball team and started getting runs going. And it felt good!”

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That breakthrough air of renewed confidence propelled them into a 4-2 victory versus the Mustangs bolstered by junior Boede Cox’s complete game, along with Ivan’s two run contribution for a total of seven so far. Thus, the Buffs finished #5 in the eight-team field led by perennial powerhouse #1 Panguitch, accompanied by #2 American Heritage, #3 Piute, #4 Wayne, #6 Bryce Valley, #7 Altamont and #8 Tintic.

In his assessment of the team’s performance, Head Coach Lance P e t e r s o n notes, “Our first game of the day, second of the season was pretty good. I think we kinda let our emotions get the better of us: did a lot of errors. Just blurted the ball around: it was an ugly game. We feel we should have won. But credit to American Heritage, they just out-played us. So, that was a really important bounce-back game. Altamont is a really good team. They used their #1 pitcher earlier, and we were able to hit [in] their two, three, four innings. Everybody hit though; they hit okay. So, did good; it was a good bounce-back game.”

And with an eye for the future, he observes, “We’ve got a pretty young team this year. I’m excited to see what we can do. Our players have a lot of room for growth. So, I think that’s exciting. You know, our seniors have done a great job. Ivan Spencer’s been great on the mound and at the plate for us. It’ll be a fun year!”

From the aspect of his role as tournament coordinator ‘go-to’ guy, he points out, “Overall, I felt like the tournament went really well. Every year it’s a fun first weekend of baseball. The season starts that week, and then we just jump right in: lots of good teams. I was really impressed with American Heritage. They beat us and beat Wayne. And it was kinda fun to see those teams out of our region. Altamont and Tintic traveled a long way to come. And, you know, our region teams. But it was good. You get to see what teams have early on. Got a feeling for pitching and hitting. I think things went well.”




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