One quick Google search can turn up thousands of inspirational quotes about building character after disappointment and ultimately turning it into success. Many of those messages are about baseball, where failing 66 percent of the time and success are synonymous.
For Piute’s Kesler Blood, similar lessons last season became the driving force behind a terrific junior season as he helped lead the T-Birds to the 1A baseball championship in the fall.
In the 2015 semifinals against Tabiona, Blood got the start as a sophomore, but he had some command issues early, and Tabiona capitalized on its way to a 15-9 win.
Blood refused to let the loss define him, and is this year’s Deseret News 1A baseball MVP.
“I think he couldn’t wait to get back and have another chance,” said Piute coach Kennedy Sylvester, a mentality shared by the entire Piute team.
“I have a bunch of juniors that won this year, and a bunch of them were starters last year,” said Sylvester. “I think the team as a whole was really young last year, and I think they learned some things. I don’t know that they were a ton better baseball players this season, but I think mentally they were better prepared for where they were last year.”
Last October when Blood was handed the game ball in the 1A championship at Dixie State, command wasn’t an issue whatsoever as he led Piute to a 5-0 victory over Valley by only allowing one hit and only walking one batter.
The title was Piute’s first since 1997.
“This year he’s been very consistent with pitching, and pounding the strike zone,” said Sylvester.
Blood was the ultimate utility man for Piute. He was an excellent pitcher in Piute’s deep pitching rotation, but he could also play infield and outfield and did it very well.
He was very good at the plate as well, finishing with a .462 batting average with 20 RBIs and 12 doubles. He had one home run, and drew 16 walks as well.
His consistency at the plate was the result of countless house in the batting cage at his house.
“He loves baseball, and he spends a lot of time hitting,” said Sylvester.
One of his best games of the season at the plate came in a 10-3 win over Panguitch in the 1A semifinals. Blood went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. His two-out double in the fourth drove in an important insurance run and stretched Piute’s lead to 6-3 over a favored Panguitch team that won both Region 20 meetings.
On the mound, his mentality was excellent all season as he finished with a 5-2 record, including the title-clinching win. He only allowed eight earned runs in 45 innings.
“Him and all the rest of them, I’ve worked with those kids since they were 10 years old, and I think they all loved baseball and I think they all wanted to win so bad, and I think this year, mentally they were tougher,” said Sylvester.
Deseret News 1A All-State Baseball Team
Kesler Blood, Piute, Jr.
1A First Team
Mason Morgan, Piute, Sr.
Matt Morton, Saint Joseph, Sr.
Jake Spencer, Valley, Sr.
McClain Roundy, Valley, So.
Landon Chappell, Wayne, Sr.
Cobe Reck, Valley, Sr.
Kolton Owens, Panguitch, Sr.
Gates Fullmer, Piute, Jr.
Ryan Westwood, Piute, Sr.
Trey Barney, Panguitch, Sr.
Garrett Spencer, Valley, Jr.
Austyn Brinkerhoff, Bryce Valley, Jr.
Kevin Biel, ICS, Jr.
Danny Donlevy, Saint Joseph, Sr.
1A Second Team
Tanner Kennedy, Piute, Jr.
Wyatt Van Orden, Wayne, So.
Easton Syrett, Bryce Valley, Jr.
Jace Eyre, Panguitch, Jr.
Cameron Lefler, Tabiona, Sr.
Ben Stoddard, ICS, Sr.
Luke Rahe, Saint Joseph, So.
Tate Leech, Bryce Valley, Jr.
Chris Parkin, Panguitch, Jr.
Orrin Wood, Valley, So.
Casey Reck, Valley, Fr.
Beau Bateman, Tabiona, Sr.
Beau Sylvester, Piute, Jr.
Logan Dalton, Piute, Sr.
Parker Brinkerhoff, Panguitch, Jr.
Kade Cox, Valley, Sr.