Millard baseball has had its share of ups and downs the past few weeks, losing two of its past four games.
That might not be the most encouraging stretch on which to enter the Class 2A state tournament, but with a pitcher like Dakota Bullock on its side, the Region 13 champs will be hard to count out. The junior is 7-2 this season and boasts one of the hottest arms in 2A.
“He’s been our No. 1 pitcher for three years now, and he’s just done it through hard work and dedication,” coach Jeremy Teeples says. “We’re going to have to play some solid defense behind him.”
At the 2A level, so much rests on hitting — or lack thereof. The best hitting teams in the postseason tend to win. But the teams that can keep some of the best batters at bay — as they have done during the regular season — clearly have a leg up.
That’s why on Saturday when Gunnison takes the field, they’ll be one of the state’s favorites. Between starters Ty Bartholomew and Rylan Anderson, it’s hard to put anything in play against the Bulldogs. That’s why Gunnison is on a 10-game winning streak headed into their first-round contest with Parowan. It has outscored region opponents 102-7, with all seven runs allowed against Manti in one game.
But the Bulldogs are hardly alone when it comes to aces. Bullock should help put Millard into contention, and the Region 13 teams are loaded with good pitching. Beaver, a No. 2 seed, boasts a rotation of Sam Myers and Colton Kreth, who have both won some big games this year. Enterprise has had a topsy-turvy season, but the defending champs can hardly be counted out with Morgun Phelps — last season’s 2A MVP — taking the mound.
Although Region 14 schools have not traditionally fared well in the tournament, Rowland Hall is looking to change its fortunes behind pitcher Scott Silverstein, who hasn’t lost a start since March 10. The Winged Lions also benefit from playing at nearby Hillcrest High as a home site.
Depending on who throws fire and who fizzles out, it could be a wild postseason.
“Gunnison obviously is the favorite, but at the end of the day anyone can get hot,” Teeples says. “There are probably 10 or 12 teams that could win it. It’s a pretty level playing field.”
The 2A baseball tournament begins Saturday at No. 1 seed home sites. Second-round games will start in the afternoon. Here’s the first-round schedule:
Beaver vs. Richfield • 1:30 p.m. at Gunnison High
Parowan at Gunnison Valley • 11 a.m. at Gunnison High
Enterprise at San Juan • 11:30 a.m. at Hillcrest High
South Sevier at Rowland Hall • 9 a.m. at Hillcrest High
Kanab at Emery • 11 a.m. at Emery High School
South Summit vs. ALA • 1:30 p.m. at Emery High
Grand at Millard • 9:30 a.m. at Millard High
Manti vs. North Summit • 11:45 a.m. at Millard High School