Because three-time defending state champion Taylorsville was playing in a Nevada tournament, the West team was a little shorthanded for Saturday night's Salt Lake Valley League All-Star Game. Just try telling that to the East.
With pitchers Jared Fernandez of Kearns and Lyn Platt of Granger leading the way, the West coasted to a 9-4 victory in the annual midsummer American Legion game at Murray's Ken Price Park.Fernandez and Platt held the East scoreless on three hits through six innings, while Murray's David Madsen drove in three runs with a double, single and sacrifice fly and Jordan's Matt Heaps added a two-run homer.
Platt, a left-hander with a variety of pitches, was especially effective for the West. He gave up two hits and one walk in the middle three innings, while striking out three. Fernandez recorded only one strikeout but was equally as tough on the East hitters, retiring the last four batters he faced on ground balls to the second baseman.
Even without any Taylorsville players, the West figured to be stronger in the All-Star game. Nearing the halfway point of the season, league-leading Alta (9-1) is the only East-side team among the top six in the standings. Taylorsville is next, followed by Granger, West, Bingham and Cyprus.
So the Westeners added to their credentials with a strong showing Saturday. Leading 2-0 behind Madsen's bat, the West added four runs in the fourth inning and forced a third East pitching change. Sacrifice flies by Kelly Allred and Madsen and a double by Kearns' Freddie Scott were the run-scoring hits.
Heaps' homer came in the top of the seventh to give the West an 8-0 lead and the West pitching staff almost extended the shutout through the regulation seven innings. But Brighton's Mike Herbert delivered a solo homer with two out in the seventh - and the East added three more runs in the eighth inning of the special nine-inning game.
Herbert contributed an RBI single during the East's rally against Bingham pitcher Shane Wilde, but Wilde was able to complete the game and the West picked up another run in the ninth when Heaps singled and later scored on a ground out.
So the West owns the Valley League for now, with the exception of Alta's holding first place in the standings. After winning the Class 4A high school baseball championship in May, Alta also stands in the way of Taylorsville's try for a fourth Legion title.
The state tournament is scheduled for Aug. 4-11, when the West's domination will be tested again - by the whole state, not just the East teams.