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High school baseball: Carbon advances to 3A semifinal with Juan Diego

The No. 4-seeded Carbon baseball squad needed just one big inning to topple top seed Juab and advance to the 3A state semifinals. The Dinos took down the tournament’s top squad 6-4 during a state quarterfinal matchup at Utah Valley University on Thursday.  

Prior to the postseason meeting, Carbon and Juab had met once in the year with the Dinos picking up a 10-point victory. The two teams’ March matchup marked the last time the Wasps lost as they entered Thursday’s contest riding a 16-game win streak. 

Carbon head coach Jeff Cisneros expected a more competitive game in the quarterfinal.

“Both of us threw our best today,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a different game. Early March is a whole different time frame than the middle of May.

“We knew that coming in. But we’ve got to build off of that. I told my guys, ‘It’s going to be a different game, but build on what we did there.’ I thought we did an awesome job today.”

Cisneros was right. The rematch wasn’t as high scoring, with neither team getting on the board until the fifth inning when Juab took a 2-0 lead. Freshman Austin Park broke the scoreless tie on a solo blast over the left-field fence.

Carbon responded in the sixth, going through its batting order and picking up all six of its runs in the inning to take the lead.

“This is a group that never quits and never stops,” Cisneros said. “We proved that last weekend in our pod, scoring five in the last inning to just keep us in the winners bracket.

“We had a mindset that we were squaring balls up early, they just weren’t finding a place on the field. We just kept after (our players) every inning, ‘They’re going to start falling. We’re going to get there.’ Same kind of scenario last year when we played Juab in the state tournament.

“We didn’t score until the fifth or sixth inning last year. Baseball’s a funny game, but you’ve got to just keep pounding away.”

The Dinos pounded the Wasps in the sixth inning, diverging from the defensive theme that defined the rest of the game. 

“It was really clean played ball,” Cisneros said. “That’s what you get with two great teams. Juab is not a 1 seed for no reason. They play solid defense. They swing it. We’re a really good team too. I believe we ended up No. 1 in 3A with runs scored against. So we play defense. I’ve got a great pitching staff.” 

The second quarterfinal of the day featured No. 3 American Leadership Academy and No. 7 Juan Diego. The lower-seeded Soaring Eagles won 8-4 to advance to the semifinal round. 

Juan Diego and American Leadership Academy had identical innings through the first four, with the game tied at 3 going into the fifth. The Soaring Eagles pulled away in the final three innings, outscoring the Eagles 5-1 to pick up their second straight upset victory of the tournament.

Thursday’s two quarterfinal winners will meet Friday with the first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at UVU.  

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