Juan Diego baseball best in stateMay 29, 2022 01:21PM ● By Catherine Garrett
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
“We, Not Me” was Juan Diego Catholic High School baseball team’s motto this year.
And that theme carried the Soaring Eagle squad all the way to the 3A state title—a championship they won with a win over American Leadership Academy 8-1 at UCCU Ballpark at Utah Valley University May 14.
“It took a while for the kids to buy-in and really understand what that meant, but they kept working and trusting in each other until it was truly ‘We, Not Me’ by the end,” said head coach Taylor Berg, who just finished his third year heading up the program.
Berg is a JDCHS alum who was an All-State player for the 2009 state championship team.
“A lot of the emotions are the same, but the difference for me was truly sharing it with the entire program,” he said. “As a player, you share it with teammates and coaches and family primarily, but as the coach I know how many people are involved and support our program. It feels even better to share it with the entire JD family, including all the alumni and former coaches who mentored me.”
In the title game, senior pitcher Sam Silversmith struck out 11 Eagles players, while allowing just three hits, in a complete game effort to win the game on the mound. His four consecutive strikeouts in the early going proved key as Juan Diego put up five runs and the team gained momentum. Sophomore Andrew Lombana, who bats ninth for Juan Diego, hit a home run and a triple in driving in three runs with a four-for-four plate appearance to lead the offense.
A team effort and plenty of baseball strategy—with five stolen bases, hit-and-runs and bunts—helped Juan Diego capitalize on 11 hits to bring home the trophy.
To begin the state tournament, the seventh-seeded squad beat Richfield 19-9 May 7, opening up a close game late with eight runs in the final inning. Later that day, they got into a shootout with No. 2 Canyon View giving up 16 runs in the fifth inning and having to come back late to win 22-21.
In the quarterfinals May 12, JDCHS defeated No. 3 ALA 8-4, breaking a 3-3 tie after three innings to take control of the game. Facing fourth-ranked Carbon in the semifinals May 13, the Soaring Eagle squad won 14-6, scoring 10 runs in the middle innings— including a three-run homer by Lombana—to beat the Dinos and reach the championship game.
“We never really paid much attention to the seeding or who was ranked where. We believed in what we were doing and how good of a club we could be if we trusted each other and played for something bigger,” Berg said. “Our tough schedule all year helped us build confidence that we could play with anybody when we played our brand of JD baseball.”
Berg noted his six “incredible” seniors—Silversmith, Gabe Perkins, Cole Jackson, Tyler Easter, Dallas Larson and Patrick Swanson—who played a huge role in the team bringing a seventh baseball championship to their Draper campus.
“This was a very special group and without the leadership of these seniors, we would not have had the same finish that we did,” Berg said.
Also on the 2022 squad were juniors Uzi Alvarez, Carlos Calata, Malik Harris and Wyatt Reid; sophomores Jordan Calata, Zach Carlson, Caden Fenger, Kayson Larson, Daniel Nunez, Matthew Odell and Logan Shelton; and freshmen Antonio Archuleta, Gavin Brady, Eamonn Dolan, Manik Gill-Martin, Wyatt Hanna, Castle Huggard, Hayden Mezenen, Alex Modtland, Jacob Odell and Dean Siegel.
“Our team chemistry played a crucial part in the playoff run,” Berg said. “They truly cared for each other and wanted success for one another, and I believe that showed in how we played.”
Berg was assisted by Kendall Hanson, Brock Garn, Danny Larson and Zac Petereit on the coaching staff along with Izzy Bonacci and Olivia Harbison who handled team media.
“Our team parents, assistant coaches, team managers and everyone played a part in this championship run and we are fortunate to have such a great community at Juan Diego,” Berg said.