Dodgers player Jake Smith swings during the team’s game against the Astros. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
The Springville Dodgers had their hopes of a perfect season and a championship on the line.
The Dodgers trailed the Springville Astros, 2-1, in bottom of the fourth inning and Dodgers’ coach Mark Smith had something to say.
“I told ‘em, ‘This is our inning. This is going to make or break this game,’” Smith recalled.
A three-run fourth inning propelled the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Astros in the championship of the Seniors Division at Community Park. The win capped off a perfect 17-0 season for the Dodgers.
“I left it all on the boys,” Smith said. “I told ‘em, ‘We’re 16-0. We have one more to go. It’s up to you guys.’ Defensively, we had a great game. Pitching was outstanding. Offensively, we struggled at first, but we got some hits in the fourth when we needed it to take the lead.”
Zach Swank reached base with one out and then stole second base. Jake Smith doubled and Dan Wirfel followed with an RBI double to plate Swank. Smith scored the go-ahead run and Wirfel also scored in the inning to give the Dodgers an insurance run.
Springville rode the pitching of Hayden Goodridge and Dylan Winter. Goodridge started the game. He tossed four innings, didn’t allow an earned run (two unearned), gave up just three hits and struck out six.
“He was great tonight,”Smith said. “He’s only pitched three other innings all year. It was his last ever game as a Dodger — he wanted it.”
Winter pitched the final two innings — retiring all six batters in order — to seal the win. Smith led the Dodgers at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Smith, the Dodgers’ catcher, also threw out a runner attempting to steal second base. The soon-to-be Springville-GI junior has been a huge part of the Dodgers’ success this season.
“Jake has brought great leadership this year,” Smith’s father and coach said. “He had a big hit tonight when we needed it to get those runs in the fourth inning. He’s a leader and just a game-time player and we needed that from him all year.”
Wirfel went 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Swank reached base twice and scored a run.
Shawn Wright pitched five innings for the Astros, allowing two earned runs in a three-hitter. Wright scored both of the Astros’ runs in the loss. Jeff Baker came on in relief of Wright on the mound and struck out two with the bases loaded in the sixth to work out of a jam.
Coach Smith credited the team’s younger players for being key to the perfect 17-0 season. Eight of the Dodgers’ 12 players were either 13- or 14-year-olds.
“I told ‘em right from the first practice that our younger kids, our 13- and 14-year-olds were going to make the difference,” coach Smith said. “I knew our 15- and 16-year-olds were some of the best in the league. I believe our 13 and 14-year-olds had to come through and they did, everyone of them. Everyone of them made big plays for us this year.”