From 0-19 to 16-5, Ogden High baseball takes best record in decades into 3A state tournament
In 2021, Ogden High’s varsity baseball team played and lost 19 games.
The Tigers were young and had a new head coach, their third different skipper in as many seasons. They didn’t play the spring or summer beforehand due to COVID-19.
Two years and a drop from the 4A to the 3A classification later, 0-19 has turned into 16-5 and Ogden’s best record in at least two decades.
“It’s been pretty good. I don’t remember the last time we won this many games at Ogden, we’re on a roll right now,” OHS catcher Sean Garceau said after Tuesday’s win over Ben Lomond.
The next chapter of the team’s remarkable turnaround starts this weekend with the 3A state tournament.
Ogden is the tournament’s No. 7 seed and will head to Price for a first-round matchup against No. 10 Grantsville at 11 a.m. Saturday.
No. 2 seed Carbon High hosts the first-round “pod” site with Ogden, Grantsville and the winner of Friday’s play-in game between Morgan and North Sanpete.
The Tigers got dumped out of last year’s playoffs by Delta and Manti, and feel more prepared for this postseason now that they know what to expect from the 3A tournament field. Also helping this year’s preparation is the fact Ogden faces a familiar region opponent in the playoffs.
Ogden is 2-5 against Grantsville the past two seasons, finishing second behind the Cowboys in Region 13 both years in what’s become the closest thing to a competitive rivalry the Tigers have at the moment.
Ogden lost to Grantsville 7-2 last Friday, which simultaneously ended its hopes of sharing the Region 13 title and ensured the Cowboys won back-to-back titles.
After a three-game sweep over Ben Lomond and a win at Roy, the Tigers have won four straight games and five of their last six going into the playoffs.
“I think we’re feeling pretty good. We have a few days of rest before the state tournament; I think we’re going in pretty hot right now,” Garceau said Tuesday.
Against Grantsville, Ogden seems likely to start senior ace pitcher Ellio Saenz, who has a 6-1 record in eight appearances with a 1.94 ERA in 39 2/3 innings pitched, and 78 strikeouts against just 11 walks.
The Tigers will have to contend with any one of Grantsville’s solid starting pitchers, plus the Cowboys’ advantageous offense and solid defense.
In last week’s rubber match where a possible share of the Region 13 title was on the line, the Cowboys made zero errors, scored three runs on three separate Ogden errors in the infield, and won by five.
“I think we if we all get locked in right now — we have an idea of what we’re going to face — I think we’ll have a good chance,” said Garceau, who leads the team in batting average (.509), RBIs (29) and home runs (three).
Ogden has experienced one of the biggest two-season turnarounds in the entire state. Tigers head coach Doyle Holt deferred credit to the players.
“They’re working hard, they’re trying to do what we ask them to do. I’ve got a good group of juniors, I’ve only got four seniors, so we’re going to be alright for the next couple of years,” Holt said after last week’s Grantsville loss. “We played a summer league, a fall league last year, we’re going to do that again. We have a great group of ninth-graders coming up from the junior high …
“That’s the progress that we’re talking about. It’s not anything specific that we’re doing, we’re just trying to teach them baseball, trying to be good people, it’s all it is.”
The Tigers’ region-title drought goes back to 1990. They also haven’t won a postseason game in the current millennium.
Online Utah prep sports postseason records date back to 1993; from 1993-2019, the Tigers qualified for the state tournament or play-in rounds six times, posting a record of 1-9.
Add in the 2021-22 seasons, where every team made the playoffs under the current RPI seeding system, Ogden’s postseason record since 1993 is 1-12.
Its last win that could be considered a postseason victory came in the 1999 play-in round when the Tigers beat Wasatch 3-2 before losing at Emery in the 3A first round, according to information provided by UHSAA record keeper/statistician Curtis Pettingill.
“We’re going to go play hard…we’re gonna go see what we can do and try and stay in the winner’s bracket this year so we don’t have to play so many games. We’ll see,” Holt said.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.