By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley High School Baseball team opened its season play with a preseason tournament in southern Utah. The Pirates traveled to participate in the Pine View tournament with some of the bigger schools from Northern and Southern Utah. All of the teams that the Pirates took on at the tournament had school populations 4 times higher than that of MVHS, with some even upwards of 3,000 students.
Going into the tournament, the Pirates were much of an unknown to their opponents. By the end of the weekend, they had certainly changed a few points of view.
“Everyone was wondering where Moapa Valley High School is,” said MVHS Head Coach Ed McCann. “I think they now know where Moapa Valley High School is!”
The first game was against Logan High School. Despite their opponent having more hits than the Pirates did, Moapa Valley handled their opponent. The final score was 6-1 for the Pirates, setting the tone for the rest of the weekend.
In the second game, the Pirates took on Hunter High School of West Valley City, Utah. The Wolverines scored first, with two runs early on. The Pirates battled back to tie it up at two apiece. Then Hunter regained the lead, 3-2.
The Pirates then scored three consecutive runs to silence their opponent. According to Coach McCann, the Wolverines just ‘folded’. Meanwhile, the Pirates kept fighting and achieved the victory.
On Saturday, the Pirates took on their third opponent, Granger High School. Granger jumped out to a big lead and they stuck to it. Trailing 11-2, the Pirates were frustrated.
However, according to McCann, the team had a talk, and set a goal.
“Sometimes when young people get behind, they get down instead of just playing through it,” McCann said. “That’s what we did for about two innings. We set a goal to just win an inning.”
Sure enough, Moapa Valley outscored Granger in each of the final two innings, led by a home run from Dayton Wolfley in the last inning.
The Pirates ultimately fell in the game, 11-5, but their momentum at the end set the tone for their final game a few hours later.
In their last game of the tournament, the Pirates took on South Sevier High School, of Monroe, Utah.
It was a back and forth game from the start. The Rams scored first and held the lead until the final inning.
With the game tied 8-8, Chase Guesman stepped up to the plate. He was walked to first, and later advanced to second. Then, a sacrifice hit from Drake Staheli got Guesman to third.
This is when the Pirates implemented a play that Coach McCann had drawn up in practice. Dayton Wolfley was at bat, and was walked. On the fourth ball, Wolfley sprinted to first and didn’t stop. He continued to second base. Panicked, the catcher threw the ball to the second baseman. When it reached the second baseman, Guesman made a dash for home and scored the winning run.
“Even though we didn’t play well, they found a way,” McCann said. “They’re learning to find a way even when there doesn’t seem to be one.”
The Pirates finished in fifth place for the entire tournament.
Coach McCann has been ecstatic about what he’s seen from his team thus far. He highlighted the team’s balance on the offensive side.
Still missing their top hitter in Anthony Cornwall, Moapa Valley has found a way to compensate. Players like Wolfley, Guesman, Staheli, Tyler Peterson, Chase Hadley, and Hunter Wrzesinski have all contributed in major ways.
“It’s not just one,” McCann said. “They’re all hitting the ball. Timely hitting is going to win games. They’re all just so exciting to watch! They’re starting to get a little bit of swag to ‘em!”
The team will hope to keep the momentum going with a pair of games this week on the road against Pahrump on Tuesday, and at home against Mojave on Thursday at 4:00 pm.