City Tournament heartbreak driving Fuel, now on doorstep of title

Team seeks first CMWS berth with championship on line

Matt Hollinshead,
Danny Carpenter (7) of the Farmington Fuel greets teammate Joe Mihelich at home plate after Mihelich scored run against Strike Zone-A during Thursday's City Tournament game at Ricketts Park
  • The Fuel blew a 4-1 lead to the 4-C Club Sox in last year's tournament finals, falling 5-4.
  • The Club Sox already have qualified for this year's CMWS after the winning the Mountain West regional last weekend.
  • This year will be the first time two area teams will play in the CMWS.

FARMINGTON — You might say last year’s outcome at the City Tournament was etched into the psyche of the Farmington Fuel players.

The Fuel blew a 4-1 lead to the 4-C Club Sox in the tournament finals, falling 5-4. That put dreams of the program's first-ever CMWS berth on hold for yet another year.

“It’s always going to be a sour taste in your mouth when you’re at the doorstep and don’t get in,” Fuel left fielder Cade Acrey said.

This time, with the Club Sox automatically in this year’s CMWS after winning the Mountain West regional last weekend,  the members of the Fuel are determined to finally get in the CMWS after 14 years of futility.

This year will be the first time two area teams will play in the CMWS.

And now that it doesn’t have to worry about its in-town rival, the Fuel’s door to the CMWS couldn’t be more wide open.

The numbers generated by the Fuel’s lineup so far speak volumes. The team had scored 21 runs in the tourney entering tonight's contest against the Rivercats. The Fuel is trying to remain in control of its destiny, not letting up after building a solid lead.

“The boys are swinging the bat pretty well right now. There’s not really anybody right now that I can think of that can keep us down in runs,” said Fuel coach Kim Carpenter, who’s “cautiously optimistic” his team can finally win the tournament. “Whether it’s tied or whether it’s an open game, they’re going to keep the foot pedal on. These guys, they’re destined to want to achieve and represent.”

The Fuel, unbeaten in the City Tournament entering tonight, is guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s championship series. And because last year’s heartbreak demonstrated to the players that they are capable of reaching the CMWS, they expect nothing short of a qualifying bid.

“It’s helping us drive through,” Acrey said. “You just want to be there, in front of all the people.”

Acrey experienced some CMWS action last year after the Club Sox added him to their roster immediately after the City Tournament. Now he wants to “get it for these guys” on the Fuel.

“I feel like it’s our time in this tournament,” Acrey said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.