ST. GEORGE – Region 9 baseball fans couldn’t have seen this coming, right? The first week of region play had a little bit of everything, but the topper is that three teams are 2-0 and three are 0-2 after the first two games in league play.
Desert Hills rallied – three times – to defeat Dixie in extra innings Friday night. Pine View didn’t need rallies and made a statement that maybe the dethroning of the two-time defending state champs won’t be so easy after all. And Snow Canyon, once a dominant force in 3A (four state titles from 2002-2013), showed that it might be ready to return to the top with a pair of one-sided wins.
Here’s our report:
Desert Hills 9, Dixie 8 (F/8)
Dixie grabbed most of the headlines in preseason, with a star-studded lineup and a glossy record. But the Flyers will be chasing the Thunder the rest of the regular season after Sam Rhoton’s walk-off, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth Friday night gave D-Hills the two-game sweep over Dixie.
Rhoton, who bats third in the Thunder lineup and came into the game hitting a modest .279 on the year, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. Desert Hills trailed 8-7 at the time, but with the two fastest Thunder players on the bases (Trey Allred at third and Trey Winget at second), Rhoton simply needed to put the ball in play. He did more than that, pounding a high-bouncer over the second baseman’s head.
Allred jogged across the plate and Winget, who leads the region in stolen bases, tore around third and scored well ahead of the Dixie relay throw to end the game. Winget immediately jumped up, pointed at Rhoton and then sprinted to start a dog-pile on the jubilant Rhoton near first base.
It was a fitting ending to a game that saw Dixie lead 3-0, Desert Hills go up 5-3, Dixie regain a 6-5 lead and DH hold a 7-6 edge heading into the seventh inning.
A sacrifice fly by Chase Lundin with one out in the top of the seventh tied the game at 7-7 when Flyer speed-up runner Max Walsh crossed the plate.
And then Dixie took its final lead of the game in the top of the eighth when Dayton Dempsey hit his third home run in as many games, a liner just in front of the scoreboard over the left field fence at Thunder Field.
But the Flyers got in immediate trouble to start the bottom of the eighth. Kayler Yates, who had pitched magnificently in two scoreless innings of work, walked Allred to lead off the half-inning. Winget then took a 2-0 pitch off his body for the HBP and a free base. The third batter of the inning, Seth Betts, walked on four pitches and that was it for Yates.
Left-hander Stockton Sorden came into the game and worked the count to two balls and two strikes. Rhoton, who had an RBI double earlier in the game, swung hard at the next pitch, pounding it almost straight down into the dirt in front of the plate. The hard swing propelled the baseball on the one hop well over the second baseman’s head for Rhoton’s second and third RBIs of the game. And the season sweep for Desert Hills.
Dixie had built a 3-0 lead early with a sac fly by Lundin and a two-run double by Tyson Fisher.
Desert Hills put together a five-run rally in the bottom of the third. Rhoton started it by doubling home Quinn Kiser with two outs. Chad Nelson followed with a two-run single that brought home Betts and Rhoton and tied the game at 3-3.
The next batter, Drew Thorpe, hit a ball over the fence – on one hop – for a ground-rule double and a 4-3 DH lead. Mason Creager then stepped up and lined a single to left that brought Thorpe home and made it 5-3.
Dixie tied it at 5-5 in the top of the fourth when pitcher Alex Ekins plunked Fisher with the bases loaded and then walked the next batter, Wyatt Woodland.
Yates scored in the top of the fifth to give Dixie its 6-5 lead, but the Thunder retook the lead with two runs in the bottom half on a sac fly and a Dixie error, making it 7-6. Landon Levine dove in just ahead of the Dixie throw with the go-ahead run.
In the top of the seventh, Flyers freshman Cooper Vest doubled with one out and his speed-up runner, Max Walsh, advanced to third on a wild pitch. Lundin then hit a high fly ball to center field. Walsh scored easily on the sac fly, tying the game at 7-7. DH managed just one base runner in the bottom of the seventh off Yates, sending the game into the extra frame.
Desert Hills, 12-2 overall and 2-0 in region, had nine hits in the game, including three by Thorpe and two by Rhoton. Winget got the win on the mound despite giving up his first two earned runs of the season in two innings of relief.
Dixie, 11-3 and 0-2, pounded out 11 hits, including two doubles by Fisher. Dempsey and Hobbs Nyberg had two hits each as well.
Region play continues for both teams next week as Desert Hills plays two against Pine View, starting with Tuesday’s matchup at Panther Field, and Dixie battles Snow Canyon twice, beginning with Tuesday’s game at Warrior Field.
Pine View 10, Hurricane 2
Behind a wicked cutter, Makai Maclellan dominated Hurricane and the two-time state champ Panthers finished a sweep at Tiger Field Friday night.
“We’ve heard it all year, that we’re not going to be very good, and we don’t mind it at all,” PV coach Troy Wall said. “We lost a lot of big kids. We lost a lot of things. But one thing these kids have more than anything is heart. They are so coachable. They work harder than any group we’ve ever had here and that goes a long way.”
Maclellan, who had some success last year but has struggled a bit this season, was practically unhittable, allowing just three hits and no earned runs in six innings of work. The key for the right-hander was one particular pitch.
“It was my cutter,” Maclellan said. “It was really working. I would throw it at their hands and then it would break across the plate and they would swing over the top of it. So we just stuck with that ’cause they couldn’t hit it.”
Maclellan played club baseball with the three Hurricane heavy-hitters, Nick Horsley, Tobie Swenson and Alec Flemetakis. He said he knew any of the three could hammer the ball at any time.
“I know who they are really well and am aware of how good they are at the plate,” Maclellan said. “I gave Nick a curveball, hung it, and he put it to the fence (in the first inning). After that, I knew I couldn’t be too fine with it and just kept on going with what I knew I could go to.”
The Panthers scraped a run across in the top of the first after Ryke Erickson had doubled and scored on a Tiger error. Hurricane got Flemetakis on in the bottom half on a walk, but he was doubled off when PV second baseman Kory Taigen made a diving grab of a dying line drive in shallow right field. That happened right before Horsley’s monstrous double off the fence in left.
It was still 1-0 into the fourth inning when the Panthers put together a game-changing rally. Dawson Staheli started it with a double and, two batters later, cousin Tanner Staheli singled him home to make it 2-0. With two outs, Tanner Staheli came home on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
Erickson then socked his second double of the game down the left field line to bring home two more runs and make it 5-0. After a Jagun Leavitt single, the third HHS error of the game brought home two more runs and made it 7-0.
Pine View added two more in the sixth on RBIs by Tanner Staheli and Cody Riddle. The Tigers cut it to 9-2 in the bottom half, but Tanner Staheli killed the rally with an unassisted double play on a liner by Logan Campbell.
“Even when it was just 1-0, this team and these boys believed they would win,” Wall said. “That’s the kind of confidence these kids have. It’s just been bred into them the last four years here. They expect to win, no matter what.”
Pine View, 8-5 overall and 2-0 in region, had 11 hits in the game, with two each by Erickson, Leavitt, Maclellan, Tanner Staheli and Riddle. Erickson and Tanner Staheli had two RBIs each and Pine View took advantage of eight walks and five Hurricane errors. Maclellan got the win.
Hurricane, 6-8 and 0-2, managed just three hits, though the Tigers did draw seven walks off of Maclellan and PV reliever Weston Sampson. Flemetakis took the loss.
Pine View battles Desert Hills next week, starting with Tuesday’s home game. Hurricane battles Cedar, beginning with a 4 p.m. Tuesday game at CHS.
Snow Canyon 11, Cedar 4
In a 0-0 tie, Snow Canyon got the first eight batters on board in the third via four singles, two walks and two Cedar errors. All eight of them came around to score.
Jamison Day and Davis Rigby started it with base hits, then Austin Deming and Cannon Secrist drew walks to force home the first run. Braden Baker hit a sharp grounder that was mishandled by the Cedar shortstop and everyone was safe, making it 2-0.
Zach Nowatzke followed with a two-run single to left that brought home a pair of runs and made it 4-0. Jed Jensen’s single made it 5-0 and another Cedar error pushed it to 6-0. Day got his second hit of the inning to make it 7-0 and Rigby’s sac fly capped the rally at 8-0.
The Redmen showed some fight, plating a run in the bottom of the third and then three more in the fourth on RBIs by Brock Bleak and Bridger Bunnell (two-run single) to cut it to 8-4.
But the Warriors iced the game with one in the fifth and two more in the seventh (including an RBI double by Secrist) for the final seven-run bulge.
Secrist had two RBIs in the game and also pitched all seven innings for Snow Canyon. He gave up six hits and three walks, but allowed just one earned run and struck out four Redmen. He threw 86 pitches in recording the win.
Snow Canyon, 10-5 overall and 2-0 in region, got a three-hit day out of Day and a hit, two RBIs and two walks from Nowatzke. The Warriors had 10 hits, including a triple by Parker Ence, and earned eight walks.
Cedar, 0-2 and 5-6, got two hits and two RBIs from Bunnell and a double by Drake Lewis. The Redmen had six hits in the game.
The Warriors will play Dixie next week, with a home game on Tuesday and a road game on Friday. Cedar battles Hurricane with a 4 p.m. home game Tuesday and a 7 p.m. road game Friday.
REGION 9 BASEBALL STANDINGS
Desert Hills 2-0 (12-2)
Snow Canyon 2-0 (10-5)
Pine View 2-0 (8-5)
Dixie 0-2 (11-3)
Cedar 0-2 (5-6)
Hurricane 0-2 (6-8)
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