Yukon wins ‘Best of the West’ tournament championship in Phoenix

Yukon baseball team poses after winning the Best of the West tournament in Phoenix. Photo/Courtesy

Yukon baseball crowned themselves “Best of the West” with wins in Phoenix.

The Millers (6-6) traveled west over the spring break to compete in the Best of the West tournament. Yukon went 4-1 during their five days in Phoenix.

The Millers started with a 1-0 victory over Cactus Shadows (Cactus Creek, Arizona). Yukon capitalized on a run scored in the top of the sixth inning to seal the win.

The run came after Mason McIntyre walked with the bases loaded. Matt Wilson scored as a result of the walk.

A close win was followed by Yukon defeating Centennial (Peoria, Arizona) in blow-out fashion, 10-1.

The Millers benefited from heavy scoring production in large loads throughout the contest. Three runs came in the top of the second and one came in the top of the fourth. The fifth inning saw Yukon secure the run-rule victory with six runs.

Centennial was not on their game in the match up. Yukon out-hit their opponent 13 to three and committed just one error to Centennial’s three.

Success rolled into the next game against Notre Dame (Scottsdale, Arizona). The Millers were out-hit five to nine but managed to squeak out a 4-3 win.

Things took a turn for Yukon in the fourth game, losing on a walk off home run from Sunnyslope (Phoenix).

Yukon took a 5-3 lead after two innings but allowed Sunnyslope to chip away throughout. The Millers had seven hits but their opponent hit 11 in the loss.

Losing didn’t deter Yukon, who bounced back the next day to win the championship over Cienege 8-0. The Millers secured their eight runs with five in the top of the second and three in the fourth.

Before heading to Arizona, Yukon was riding a five game losing skid. The losses were close, signaling that a turnaround could be made.

“Of those five games we played pretty well and we had a chance to win three games,” coach Kevin James said. “The first game against Norman north I thought we played OK. We had a couple of opportunities we have to take advantage of. Once we got beat we kind of got our numbers down but we were still close in those games.”

The Best of the West games boosted the confidence of the team.

“Since we’ve gotten to Arizona, I thought we played pretty well,” James said. “We’re still a work in progress at the plate. We’ve got to get positive at-bats every time we go up there. Someone’s on, move over. Get on base, something like that.”

Not only did the Millers get the chance to collect wins, they bonded as well.

“When you ride 17 hours on a bus to Phoenix, you better bond,” James said jokingly.

The trip to Phoenix coencided with Major League Baseball’s spring training. Many teams were practicing and playing exhibition games.

Yukon watched San Diego Padres and star Manny Machado go through batting practice. Then they watched the Padres take on the Los Angeles Angels.

The Millers also took in Arizona State vs. Washington State in which Arizona State won on a walk-off home run.

“It’s good for us,” James said. “Every year we come out here I think it’s healthy. I think we’re playing better. We’re pretty cohesive as a group. I’ve always felt like this has been a good trip for us. We hope to bank on that coming back home.”

Yukon begins the first of two games with rival Mustang on Monday. The Millers host the Broncos Monday then the two will play at Bricktown Ballpark Tuesday.

Senior Braylen Wimmer won the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Best of the West Tournament. Photo/Courtesy

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