By Chuck Reherman
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Yukon headed west in search of turning their season around.
The Millers found it and came back with gold.
Yukon used the four-hit pitching performance of Carson Benge and a bases loaded triple from Brayden McPherson to power their way to an 8-0 win over Cienega High School of Vail, AZ., in the championship game of the Best of the West Tournament.
The Millers had to share the title with Edmond North, who also won their bracket. Yukon went 3-1 in pool play round and finished 4-1 overall to improve to 5-6 on the season after going in with a 2-5 record.
The Millers beat Sunrise Hills 1-0, Centennial High School 10-1 and Notre Dame Prep 4-3, but lost to Sunnyslope 7-6 in the final pool round game.
It was the Millers third Best of the West title since the team started making the trek west. YHS won in 2011 and 2012.
“We played well today,” Miller head coach Kevin James said. “Carson threw a gem, he was in command all game long.
“It made it a fun trip to come out here and have a good showing,” he added. “Even though we played better, we still have some things to work on, but we competed every day.
“We had some good outings on the mound and have a few that need to continue to work on pitching ahead.”
Benge scattered four hits in seven innings of work, throwing only 98 pitches (67 percent of them strikes) and finished with 10 strikeouts.
Senior Braylen Wimmer was named Offensive MVP of the tournament. He was 9-of-16 at the plate with five runs batted in and two runs scored.
The Bobcats never really threatened in the game, leaving six runners on base, but none of them got past second base. Yukon finished the game with eight hits, led by Wimmer, who went 3-for-3 with three runs batted in.
“Defensively, we played pretty good,” James said. “Consistency at the plate is a work in progress, but it was better,
“We are ready for the trip home, though,” he said. “A lot of the players, managers and trainer are tired now. The coaches are all real tired and ready for sleep!”
The Millers took control of the game with Cienega in the second inning keyed by McPherson’s bases clearing triple.
Yukon loaded the bases on walks to Hunter Brown and Nollan Koon around Matt Wilson reaching on an error after laying down a bunt. Walks to Benge and Wimmer brought home runs.
With two out, McPherson tripled to the wall to plate three runs and opened a 5-0 lead.
A solo home run by Wimmer in the top of the fourth inning sparked a three-run frame to open an 8-0 lead.
Wimmer connected on a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall. A bases loaded walk to Carson Schultz (after a McPherson single and walks to Brown and Wilson) sent home the second run and a passed ball brought home the third to open the 8-0 lead.
Sunnyslope 7 Yukon 6
Drew Bond’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning sent Sunnyslope to a 7-6 win over the Millers, handing Yukon its only loss of the tournament.
Yukon had bolted to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and a half,, but saw the Vikings chip away at the lead the rest of the night.
The Vikings had tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a Christian Perez RBI single. Yukon regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning on an RBI double by Benge. Koon had walked before Benge’s base hit.
Trey Falk’s ground out with runners on second and third drove in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Millers had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on Wimmer’s two-run scoring error. Koon had singled and Benge walked before Wimmer reached on the error. He scored on Hunter Brown’s RBI single.
The Millers scored two more runs in the top of the second on Sunnyslope errors, but saw the Vikings answer with three runs in the bottom of the frame to cut the lead to 5-3.
Yukon returns to District 6A-1 play on Monday, hosting Mustang in the first of two Battle of the Diamond games at 4:30 p.m.
The teams turn around and play in the Bedlam at the Brick on Tuesday at the Bricktown Ballpark at 7 p.m. Mustang will be the home team.
The Broncos did beat Yukon in last year’s game at the Brick.
The Millers are currently tied for fourth in the district race with Edmond North with 2-2 records. Mustang is tied with Edmond Memorial for second at 3-1.
The Broncos come into the game with an 8-3 overall record. MHS played in the Aggie Classic in Florida over Spring Break.
“We always look forward to playing Mustang, it should be a pair of good games,” James said. “They have that big lefthander that will be tough and we will have to play well.”
By Chuck Reherman