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Valley Buffalos roam into third place in annual Jeff Wood Memorial Baseball Tournament

This year’s line-ups for the August 5 - 6 event included such faraway squads as the Altamont Longhorns and the Tintic Miners in addition to other more familiar Region 20 competitors, Bryce Valley Mustangs, Diamond Ranch Diamondbacks, Panguitch Bobcats, Piute Thunderbirds and Wayne Badgers.

Game-winning senior hurler, Ivan Spencer, determined to ignore the pain of his bloodied right-thumbnail on team’s exciting seventh-inning victory over the Bryce Valley Mustangs. Photo by Jerry Melrose.

In their 8 a.m. opener, the host Buffs out-gorged the Horns 12-2 in four innings due to the mandatory 10-point differential rule. “Good game this morning,” observed Coach Lance Peterson. “The boys came out and scored early. Sometimes, as a coach, you worry about them being awake and ready to go. But they jumped on them quick: four runs in the first inning. And then, Altamont switched to that little bit faster pitcher. Then we saw four pitchers, and our batters adjusted pretty well throughout the game. I was glad to see that.

“McCoy (Harris) did a good job (pitching). Bret Heaton and Hogan Harris, both of them had a lot of good sharp hits today. So, they did a great job today. But, looking good. Put some runs on the board. We’ll have a super-tough match-up tomorrow, assuming that Piute wins this (next) game. They’re undefeated; they’ve won a lot of games in a row. So, we’ll see, and come out to play our very best game.”

Saturday’s early morning anticipated contest versus Piute resulted in a 19-0 spanking. “Well, we played Piute and got our butts kicked,” Coach Peterson admitted. “They were the better team today. We made way too many errors, and they hit the ball well. So, every error that we made just got compounded. We’re just looking to the next game and got to forget that one!”

Cooper Chamberlain (center) receiving a conquering hero’s welcome from teammates (l-r) Hogan Harris, McCoy Harris, Hadley Harris, Hunter Barrick, Boede Cox and Jace Cox for his clutch game-winning, 7-6, double in the seventh inning for third place in the Jeff Wood Memorial Tournament. Photo by Jerry Melrose.

And for sheer thrills of anticipation, the 4 p.m. consolation matchup versus Bryce Valley was appropriately unforgettable! Coming into the fourth down 4-1, to score three more to tie, each team see-sawed one apiece stretching into the seventh inning knotted at five. Then, the Mustangs rallied for another: 6-5!

To hear the team tell the tale, winning pitcher Ivan Spencer: “I got beaned in the first-inning of the first game today, and it (right thumb) went numb. And then, I decided it was good to go. It wasn’t broken; it’s (thumbnail) just peeling off. So, basically, all we needed was two runs. And we had a guy on third (Hunter Barrick) and they were playing super-short; so, I just put the bat out there. Didn’t even swing, hardly. So, we got it out there and got him in. And then, Cooper hit me in.”

“A good solid hit,” according to Cooper Chamberlain. “That’s about it. Felt good. I just knew what I had to do. Put a quality swing on the ball and did my job. Got the ‘W’!”

A jubilant Cooper Chamberlain rounding third on his way home in the third inning of Valley’s eventual third-place tournament victory. Photo by Jerry Melrose.

Coach Peterson sums it up: “It was a good way to finish the tournament. We had a rough game this morning, and they got up on us 3 - 0 in the first inning. Even I was a little worried as a coaching staff. But Boede (Cox) did a good job (on the mound), and then, Ivan came in, and he was rough. He had a broken fingernail there. But they played good; and people just came-clutch. Hunter Barrick had a triple. Ivan and Cooper down the stretch getting Hogan in. Cooper hit Ivan in. It was great. Glad to end the day that way. We got our innings’ worth!”

In the noontime game, Diamond Ranch rattled Tintic 10-8. At 1 p.m., Panguitch bested Bryce Valley, 5-3. At 2 p.m., Wayne laid waste to Altamont, 6-0. And in the tournament finale, after scoring only once in the first, last season’s league champion Piute prevailed over Panguitch, 1-0.

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