Helper's season comes to end at Western Regionals
Tough teams from New Mexico and Texas send Utah State Champions home early
Helper's tough, gritty play over the final few weeks helped them overcome obstacles on their way to a second straight Utah State Championship.
But at the Western Regionals in Surprise, Arizona, Helper couldn't continue that run of play that carried them through the Utah American Legion State Tournament earlier this month.
Helper dropped their opening game 10-5 to New Mexico on Thursday afternoon before falling to Texas 8-1 in an elimination game on Friday afternoon.
"We needed to get that big hit at times, but we just couldn't get them," said Helper Head Coach Jeff Cisneros. "It was a good trip, too short obviously, but we competed against good teams at the state level."
In both contests, Helper fell behind early and couldn't overcome the deficits. Albuquerque, the New Mexico State Champions, scored four runs in the first inning on Thursday and Texas scored two runs in the first inning of the elimination game on Friday.
Helper battled back in both games but the early deficits put Helper in a hole too deep to get completely out of.
"The competition is very good down there," Cisneros said noting teams there had good talent, including college players.
Cisneros said Helper had opportunities in the game against Texas by loading the bases on three separate occasions. But each time, Helper was unable to score the baserunners to get a rally going to tie or take the lead.
"We were a hit or two and a play or two from changing both of those games," he said.
Overall, Cisneros said he was pleased with how things played out for Helper considering how many players they lost from last year's team.
"The kids deserve credit for getting to this point through their hard work," he said noting Helper's run of finishing in second place at the state tournament on six occasions. "It was a satisfying year and it's more than I could have asked for to end up as state champions again."
Cisneros said he is hopeful that someone can step in and take over the program so he can focus on other areas including the boys basketball team at Carbon High. But after telling his team after the season that he wouldn't be returning again, Cisneros said all the team could do was laugh.
"We'll see how things go when next season rolls around," he said. "I'm hopeful that someone can take things over and lead the team. But either way, I can't see Helper not having an American Legion team."