DSU baseball ready for 1st-place showdown after sweep of Hilo

Dixie State's Drew McLaughlin (2), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

HILO, Hawaii – The Dixie State baseball team finished its Hawaii trip with a sweep of Hawaii-Hilo on Wednesday. The Trailblazers opened their trip with a 2-1-1 series against Hawaii Pacific. Even though DSU won the series, it had to be disappointing for a team fighting for first place in the PacWest. The two Hawaii schools both sit in the basement of the PacWest standings.

With a sweep of UH-Hilo, the Trailblazers set up a showdown with the other frontrunner, Azusa Pacific University. The Cougars currently sit in second place, but could pull even with Dixie State by the time the two teams meet in Azusa May 8-10. In the West Region standings, DSU sits in third place. Azusa is just above them in second. Both teams are chasing Chico State. It is conceivable that Dixie State could host the West Regional with a good showing against Azusa Pacific and if Chico falters in its conference tournament the same weekend.

“Azusa has a good club,” said Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “We split with them last year and they are like us — they have several players back from last year. They have good pitching and a couple of guys that have hit the ball extremely well. It will be a good series.”

Against Hilo, Dixie State made sure there would not be any letdown after winning the first two games Tuesday. Below are game summaries of Wednesday’s doubleheader:

GAME ONE
DSU 12, UHH 4

The Trailblazers scored at least one run in six of the nine innings. Once the third inning ended, they held a comfortable 5-2 lead. As a team, DSU batted .487, recording 19 hits in 39 at-bats. Seven different batters had multiple hits with Bryce Feist leading the way with four.

“Their pitching in the first game today did not have a lot of velocity,” said Pfatenhauer. “Our guys were able to get a few hits in these four games.”

The DSU offense recorded a total of 60 hits over the four-game series with a high of 21 hits in the first game.

Dylan File (8-1) got the win from the mound. File pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and striking out four.

“All of our pitching had to go on short rest,” said Pfatenhauer. “With the weather pushing the first series back a day, it was a very short turnaround. Taking that into consideration, both the starters and the bullpen pitched well.”

GAME TWO
DSU 4, UHH 0

Unlike game one, the Blazers did not have heavy run production. But with Mason Hilty (9-2) on the mound for the entire seven innings, the limited run production was plenty to secure the win.

Hilty pitched a shutout, allowing only three hits and one walk. He struck out seven batters.

The Blazers broke a scoreless tie in the third inning. Jake Davison started the inning with a double to right field. Reece Lucero pushed Davison to third on a fielder’s choice. Drew McLaughlin then tripled to get the RBI. Tyler Baker followed that up with a walk. Trey Kamachi then singled to score McLaughlin and put runners at the corners. Logan Porter got the final RBI of the inning by singling in Baker. Kamachi tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at the plate.

Dixie State’s Jerome Hill II (24) is back from injury, file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

DSU added a run in the fourth inning. Jerome Hill II began the inning with a double. Miles Bice scored Hill on a single to center field.

“Getting Jerome Hill back in time for a late-season run is huge,” said Pfatenhauer. “In this series, he went 8 for 10 and got on base two other times. He has been out with an injury all season.”

For the game, the Blazers batted .296. Individually, McLaughlin and Hill both had multiple hits.

With the sweep, DSU moves to 35-10-1 overall and 24-7-1 in the PacWest. The Vulcans fall to 8-28 overall and 8-26 in the PacWest. The Blazers will now get a 12-day rest before their final series against Azusa Pacific.

“We had a two-week break before our Hawaii trip also,” said Pfatenhauer. “We will take advantage of the time. We’ve got some things planned to help us prepare for the final series.”

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