Redeem: to get or win back; to free from what distresses or harms; serving to offset or compensate for.
The San Juan Broncos finally got redemption this baseball season by beating a game Parowan Ram team 3-1 on Saturday at the 2010 2A state baseball finals. The win came one year after losing a 10-run lead to an inspired Kanab Cowboy baseball team in the 2009 2A state finals.
After a season of bashball, the Broncos used defense and pitching to go undefeated through the double elimination tournament.
In a season where they averaged over 13 runs a game while racing to a 17-2 record, at the state finals the Broncos rode the strong pitching of aces Nache Nielson and Peyton Black to the team title.
Nielson earned two of the three victories, including the final over Parowan in relief, to run his season record to an imposing 13-1.
Allowing only 17 hits by their opponents, Nielson and Black provided the inspiration while the Bronco bats were quieted. Opposing pitchers only allowed the Bronco batsmen 19 hits in the tournament, but it was just enough to get the victories.
Black was particularly impressive in a 2-1 semifinal redemption win over the Cowboys, allowing only four hits in a complete game performance that saw him rack up 11 strikeouts. Black, you see, was the losing pitcher in last year’s game. His record this year was a sparkling 6-1.
In the title game, the Broncos jumped to an early lead when Benny Royer led off and eventually came around to score. The Broncos loaded the bases with no outs, but could score only one run.
Payton Black struck out four in the early innings while shutting out the Rams. Nielson came in for relief and the Ram were able to tie the score 1-1.
In their last at bats, the Broncos moved two runners around the bases to lead 3-1 and then held on for the win and the state championship.
It wasn’t just strong pitching, hitting and defense that helped the Broncos; baseruning was also a strength. In an earlier game the Broncos saw a lead over Parowan evaporate when the Rams tied the score late in the game.
With the game on the line, Randy Bowers got on base, and pitch runner Trey Macdonald advanced to third base. Nache Nielson slid hard into second and broke up a potential double-play, thus allowing Macdonald to score and the Broncos to win the game.
In the final game, Bronco catchers threw out three Parowan baserunners, including two throws by Nache Nielson and a third by Taj Eldredge.
Hoping to bring home a softball title as well, the Broncos ran into a motivated and eventual state champion Grand County Red Devil team in the semis, losing in an international tiebreaker in eight innings, 3-2, to put them in the one loss bracket.
Another sizzling team, the Lady Wildcats of South Summit, then ended the Lady Broncos season, sending the Broncos to third place with an 7-5 victory.
Abby Bayles led the way for the Broncos on the mound, allowing seven hits in three opening round Bronco wins, 10-0 over Milford, 13-0 over Parowan, and 3-1 over Enterprise. She also blasted a home run in the win over Parowan.
Three other Lady Broncos also homered in the tournament, Briona Laws, Jolene Kirk, and Brooke Lyman. Named to the all tournament team were Laws, Bayles, Kirk, and Felicia Flavel. Also named was Janessa Bowring from Monticello.
Speaking of Monticello, the Lady Bucks had a fine showing at the tournament as well, losing a heartbreaking 12-11 game against Beaver in the first game, before winning three times in the grueling one loss bracket, 18-3 over Kanab, 5-2 over North Summit (a game where three Lady Bucks, Bryanna Kershaw, Bowring, and Mercedez Slade hit home runs), and 15-13 over the Rams from Parowan.
But, it was those same Lady Wildcats from South Summit who ended the Broncos season that brought the Buckaroos 2010 softball year to a close, 6-0, leaving the Buckaroos tied for fifth place. Mercedez Slade closed out her stellar softball career with a 6-2 season record on the mound.
With their fourth state baseball championship in hand, the 2009-2010 Broncos also completed an amazing double for the third time, winning the state football and baseball team titles in the same school year.
It first happened in 1989-1990, when the Broncos beat the Hurricane Tigers in football before capturing the baseball crown the following spring.
In 2000-2001, the Broncos beat the South Summit Wildcats in the famous Travis Shumway-bowl in football while besting the Beaver Beavers in baseball.
In 2005-2006, the Broncos were second in football to Grand in the memorable blocked punt bowl, but first in baseball, besting the Gunnison Bulldogs.
As for their part, the Lady Broncos also have a strong fall sport, spring sport connection. In 2007-2008, the Lady Broncos beat North Sevier to win the state title in volleyball, and then beat Juab 5-2 to capture their only state softball title.
In 2005-2006, the Lady Broncos were first in volleyball, beating Richfield and second in softball to Manti, while the 2008-2009 season saw the gals from Blanding finish third in volleyball and second in softball, again to Manti.