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Legion baseball not finished for season

The summer baseball season isn't over quite yet.

Utah will host the Northwest Class A American Legion Baseball Tournament beginning today at Gates Field. The state has two representatives in the field in state champion Box Elder and the host team Bear River.

Box Elder is a combined team with players from Box Elder and Mountain Crest. Bear River is a combined team with players from Bear River, Roy and Clearfield. The tournament is double-elimination and lasts until Monday. Games will be played at Gates today, Sunday and Monday. Saturday's games will be played at Oquirrh Park.

"Every one of these (Class A regional tournaments) I've been to, the teams have been pretty good," said American Legion junior state commissioner Jeff Nakaishi.

This will be Bear River's second appearance in the regional. The Bears took second place in the tourney two years ago, and coach Clay Chournos was impressed with the level of competition in it. Some of the teams will feature college players and 19-year-olds. All games are nine innings, so pitching will be at a premium in the tournament.

"It's a good little tournament," Chournos said. "I think we'll be OK. I think both Utah teams will do really well."

Host teams in these types of tournaments are usually one of the weaker seeds, but the Bears look pretty formidable. Roy's Bubba Blau and D.J. Shickel will be among Bear River's key players, and Bear River High is represented by standouts such as Eric Rawlinson, Dyson Morgan and Josh Theurer.

"We've got some good players," Chournos said. "We've got some good pitching but we're a little light as far as depth goes. You really have to strategize with your pitching with the games being nine innings."

The rest of the field is expected to be solid with teams such as Laurel, Mont. — which won its first state championship in 17 years this summer — and the Kennewick Bandits from Washington. There are also good teams from Alaska, Oregon, Wyoming and Idaho coming in. Those states may not exactly be California and Florida when it comes to developing baseball talent, but their teams are better than what casual baseball fans may expect.

Oregon was originally supposed to host this year's tournament, and Utah was scheduled to host in 2011. Oregon backed out, switching years to host with Utah. Nakaishi thinks there's a chance Utah could host again in 2011.

Northwest Class A American Legion Baseball Tournament

Today, at Gates Field, Kearns

Kennewick, Wash., vs. Box Elder, 9:30 a.m.

Roseburg, Ore., vs. Laurel, Mont., 12:30 p.m.

Bonneville, Idaho, vs. Powell, Wyo., 4:30 p.m.

Fairbanks, Alaska, vs. Bear River, 7:30 p.m.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com