Prep baseball: Flyers take pitchers’ duel; DH alone in 1st

ST. GEORGE – Dixie and Pine View staged a compelling pitchers’ duel at Flyer Field Tuesday with a Dixie freshman coming away as one of the heroes. Meanwhile, Snow Canyon kept pace with the Flyers and Panthers with a lopsided win at Hurricane. As for first-place Desert Hills, well the Thunder just keep winning, blasting past Cedar and earning a spot atop Region 9.

The Thunder have a one-game lead on Dixie, PV and SC, and a two-game lead on the Tigers. Cedar, which is winless in region, needs to get hot to make the playoffs. We’ve reached the halfway point of region play, but there is still much to be decided.

Here’s what went down Tuesday night:

Dixie 1, Pine View 0

Dixie’s Tyson Fisher and Pine View’s Jagun Leavitt are two of the top pitchers in the entire 3A classification, both sporting earned run averages under 2.70 and having two of the lowest opponent batting averages in Utah.

So no one should be surprised that this great duel went down to the final moments before being decided.

Pinch hitter Cooper Vest squirted a grounder through the right side of the infield to score Max Walsh from third base with the only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Kayler Yates, whose ERA is actually lower than Fisher’s and Leavitt’s, then struck out the side in the seventh to earn his first save of the season and a crucial 1-0 Dixie win.

Dixie’s Tyson Fisher (18), Dixie vs. Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It was a big win for us,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “Pine View had some opportunities early that Tyson was able to work through and it seemed like he got stronger as the game went on. And we had planned on going with Yates if we got the lead and we did. He came in and threw strikes and pitched well.”

It truly was a pitching coach’s dream ballgame, with Leavitt allowing just three hits and one walk through five innings and Fisher matching him with just three hits allowed and seven strikeouts through the first six innings.

Dixie’s Kayler Yates (14), Dixie vs. Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Two of Pine View’s hits came in the first inning when Ryke Erickson and Leavitt both singled. But Fisher got back-to-back ground outs to end the threat. He also allowed two on in the second and fourth innings, but strikeouts helped him keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.

The Flyers managed to get a runner on base in every inning except the third, but left every one of those guys out on the base paths as Leavitt never let a Flyer past second base … until the sixth.

In the top of the sixth, Fisher worked out of the last jam of his night by striking out Jarod Sterling with a runner at third base. Then, in the bottom half, Fisher led off with a solid single to left field. Max Walsh came in to run for the junior slugger and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Payden Harrah.

Leavitt struck out Tyson Miller for the second out of the inning, but not until after Walsh had advanced to third on a passed ball. Yates walked to put runners on the corners. With two down and Stockton Sorden due up, Ipson tabbed Vest to try and break the tie. The freshman left-hander punched a sharp grounder between first and second to enable Walsh to jog home with the go-ahead run.

“It wasn’t magic or a gut feeling or anything, we had him slated there to hit if the situation came up,” Ipson said. “He has a little tighter, more compact swing and we felt like he would be a good choice to maybe sneak one through a hole and get a hit and that’s exactly what he did.”

Pine View’s Jagun Leavitt (11), Dixie vs. Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Leavitt got another strikeout to retire the side, but the scoreless tie had been broken and the Panthers faced a score-or-lose scenario in the top of the seventh.

With Fisher at 106 pitches (115 is the UHSAA-mandated limit), the Flyers had to make a pitching change. Yates, who plays shortstop when he’s not pitching, had walked in the sixth, but came out for a pinch runner and was able to warm up a little bit before heading to the mound.

“We were able to get him off the base paths and head to the bullpen for a bit,” Ipson said. “That was good. We were planning on going to him if we had the lead.”

Yates then struck out Erickson, who is hitting .412, on a 2-2 called third strike. He followed that up by fanning Dawson Staheli, who is batting .321, on a 3-2 swinging strike three. The pièces de résistance came when Yates ended the game by blowing away Leavitt, a .417 hitter, on a 1-2 breaking ball that Leaviit couldn’t quite locate.

Pine View’s Tanner Staheli (8) throws to second base for a force out, Dixie vs. Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Fisher gets his fourth win of the year and the junior also had two of the five Dixie hits in the game. Yates was active at the plate with a double, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

For Pine View, Erickson, Leavitt and Erik Sanchez had the three hits. Makai Maclellan and Cody Riddle drew two walks each, but the Panthers left eight men on base, including five in scoring position. There was only one error in the game, by Dixie.

The two teams are both 3-2 in region play now with the Flyers going to 14-3 overall and the Panthers falling to 10-8. They will play the other end of the two-game series Friday at Panther Field, 7 p.m. PV will likely start Maclellan while Dixie could go with lefties Sorden or Vest or righty Hobbs Nyberg.

Snow Canyon 14, Hurricane 3 (F/6)

For the first time this region season, the mercy rule came into effect as the Warriors pounded out 14 runs on 13 hits and nine walks. SC had a total of 25 base runners in the game. Fourteen of those scored.

It was an important bounce-back win for the Warriors, who lost two one-run games last week to Dixie, including a 6-5 defeat in which they led 5-0 going into the seventh inning.

“We had a long weekend to forget about what happened last week,” SC’s Davis Rigby said. “Coach texted us and told us to forget about – the faster you forget about it, the better it will be.”

Austin Deming, who joined Rigby in the three-hit club in the game, said the key was just getting back out on the field.

“Coming off those two, that’s tough for sure,” he said. “But we’re swinging it good and we wanted to keep the same mentality. It’s been working. So we came today and swung the bats and got the W.”

Snow Canyon’s Davis Rigby (3), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Those two hitters, who bat second and third in the Warrior lineup, combined to go 6 for 7 with seven RBIs, four runs scored and three walks.

“Getting a lead early gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher,” said SC’s Breck Eichelberger, who allowed two earned runs and four hits in five innings of work and got the win. “Coming off of last week, I felt like we were going to hit the ball really well, which we did. I feel like we came out with more fire than ever before.”

Cannon Secrist tripled home two runs in the first inning to start the onslaught. Hurricane got one back with a Tobie Swenson sac fly in the bottom of the first, but the Warriors made it 7-1 with five more in the top of the second. With the bases loaded, Deming hit a rocket line drive at HHS third baseman Logan Campbell. The hard-hit ball, ruled a double by SC scorekeepers and an error by HHS scorekeepers, brought home three runs. If Campbell had been able to hold onto the hot shot, the inning would have ended without anyone scoring.

The play made it 5-1 and Braden Baker and Jed Jensen also had RBIs later in the inning.

The Tigers made it interesting for a moment when Drew Hermansen forced home a run with a bases loaded walk and Campbell scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-3.

But Snow Canyon continued the offensive fireworks with two in the third (including a Rigby RBI single), two in the fifth (on a two-run Rigby double) and three in the sixth (yet another RBI single by Rigby).

With the score at 14-3, Hurricane needed at least two runs to avoid the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth. But SC reliever Jed Jensen retired the Tigers in order to claim the shortened win.

“It’s unfortunate that we came out on the bad side of that game last Thursday, but those things happen,” Warrior coach Reed Secrist said. “But that’s why you play the games and that’s why you play seven innings. We’ve been playing really well and the big key was just to get back out on the field.”

Along with Rigby and Deming, Kaleb Gates also had three hits in the game for SC, while Jamison Day had a hit and two walks and scored four times. Seth Smith, who is the primary speed-up runner for Gates, had three stolen bases and scored four times. Smith is second in Region 9 in stolen bases with 14 on the year. Day also stole three bags and has 12 on the season.

Alec Flemetakis had two hits for Hurricane, which compiled four hits and three walks off of Eichelberger. All four hits were singles.

Snow Canyon improves to 11-7 overall and 3-2 in region, a game behind first-place Desert Hills. Hurricane falls to 8-9 overall and 2-3 in region. The two teams meet again Friday at Warrior Field at 7:30 p.m. The likely starters will be Cannon Secrist for the Warriors and Flemetakis for the Tigers.

Desert Hills 11, Cedar 5

The Thunder are back in first place all by themselves after pounding out 10 hits, including a triple and three doubles, against the Redmen.

Cedar led 1-0 after striking for a run in the top of the second. Brandon Johnson and Markus Johnson had back-to-back hits and Chase Houston hit a no-out sac fly to give CHS the lead. It lasted until the bottom of the third, when Desert Hills got to Cedar starter Ben Hulet for six runs.

Trey Allred and Trey Winget started the rally with consecutive singles, then Allred scored on a double steal, tying it at 1-1. After a strikeout, Seth Betts tripled Winget home to make it 2-1. It went to 3-1 on a Cedar error, and Chad Nelson made it 4-1 with an RBI double. With two outs, Konner Blomquist singled home two more to cap the rally and make it 6-1.

Cedar answered with three runs in the top of the fourth. Ethan Boettcher had an RBI ground out, then Travis Tait ripped a two-out, two-run line drive to right field to cut it to 6-4.

Desert Hills’ Trey Allred (1), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

DH chased Cedar starter Hulet in the bottom of the fourth with a four-run rally. Sam Rhoton’s one-out RBI single made it 7-4, then Nelson followed with a run-scoring double to make it 8-4. Drew Thorpe’s RBI hit made it 9-4 and the score went to 10-4 when the Thunder executed their second double-steal of the game with Nelson coming home.

Each team scored once in the fifth with Markus Johnson knocking one home for Cedar and Betts bringing in the cheese for Desert Hills.

Winget pitched the final two innings for the Thunder, retiring six of the seven batters he faced.

Allred, Thorpe and Nelson had two hits each for DH, with Nelson doubling twice. He also got the win on the mound, going four innings and allowing four earned runs and five hits. Winget was 1 for 1 with two walks and two stolen bases. He leads Region 9 in steals with 25. Allred and Thorpe also had two steals as D-Hills swiped eight bags in the game. The Thunder have 66 stolen bases in 17 games, tops in the region.

For Cedar, Brandon Johnson and Markus Johnson had two hits each, with Brandon Johnson doubling and also drawing a walk. The Redmen had six hits and six walks in the game and also stole two bases.

Desert Hills, 14-3 overall and 4-1 in region, is a game ahead of Dixie, SC and PV now halfway through region play. Cedar, 5-9 and 0-5, is giving up 10 runs per game in region competition.

The two teams meet Thursday afternoon (4 p.m.) in Cedar City to complete the two-game set. The Thunder will likely start Thorpe on the mound, while the Redmen will likely counter with Bridger Bunnell.

REGION 9 BASEBALL STANDINGS
Desert Hills 4-1 (14-3)
Dixie 3-2 (14-3)
Snow Canyon 3-2 (11-7)
Pine View 3-2 (10-6)
Hurricane 2-3 (8-9)
Cedar 0-5 (5-9)

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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