The new state high school baseball tournament format will definitely separate teams with pitching depth and those without.
The Utah High School Activities Association released final RPI numbers for the 2021 season on Thursday to set up the Class 6A and Class 5A tournaments, which begin on Friday. As expected, American Fork (23-1) and Pleasant Grove (21-4) are the top two seeds in 6A, with Olympus (22-2) and Salem Hills (20-5) taking the top two places in 5A.
This season’s tournaments are a combination of single elimination, a best-of-three format, and the standard win-lose games of the past year. It is possible that a 5A team could play up to 14 games to win a state title. In 6A, the number is 13.
A deep-throwing staff is obviously a huge plus in the tournaments, which will crown the champions on May 29 at Utah Valley University.
The 6A tournament begins on Saturday with the first match of the best-of-three format at the host venues, followed by the second match on Monday. If a third game is needed, it will also be played on Monday. The second round – dubbed the “Super Regional” – follows the same format on Thursday and Friday.
The top eight seeds from the first two rounds will be reclassified for the championship rounds, setting up a best-of-three streak for the state title on May 28-29.
American Fork and Pleasant Grove have been the top two teams in 6A all season. The two programs were undefeated when they met for a three-game series in Region 4 in early May. The Cavemen won the first two games, but the Vikings came back to win the third in a draw.
Jarod Ingersoll’s American Fork club reached .383 as a team, led by juniors Fisher Ingersoll (.524) and Kaden Carpenter (.478). Senior Dalton Smith is 9-0 on the hill with a 1.63 ERA. The Cavemen last won a state title in 2016.
Pleasant Grove has lost four of its last six games, two of three with Skyridge to end the Region 4 game. The Vikings won the last Class 6A title in 2019.
Olympus, the No.1 seed in Class 5A, came through Region 6 play with a 13-1 record and outscored opponents 128-28. Salem Hills was 12-2 in the game. Region 8 behind senior hitter Gavin Averett (.402), sophomore Nolan Miller (.389) and senior Deven Johnson (.383). Timpanogos (19-6) won the Region 7 title with a score of 16-2. The Jackson brothers (.354) and Billy Bird (.360) are part of a powerful attack by the T-Wolves.
The Class 5A tournament follows a similar format but includes an additional knockout round on Friday to accommodate more teams.