ST. GEORGE – Kaleb Caplin will never forget Apr. 2, 2013, because it’s the day he felt like Michael Jordan.
Caplin had the game-winning RBI just hours after shaking off a nasty stomach flu to help Desert Hills beat Snow Canyon 5-4 in eight innings. Caplin, who also started on the mound and held the Warriors scoreless in the first four innings, lined a Riley Gates curveball into center field, scoring Braiden Irvin from second base for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Dylan File then pitched the bottom of the inning scoreless to save the win for Desert Hills.
“We were ready for Gates. We actually thought he was going to start,” Caplin said. “But when he came in, we were ready. This is definitely a statement game. People know now that we’re the real deal.”
Desert Hills had blown leads of 3-0 and 4-3, but got the win in the eighth. Braiden Irvin and Baden Powell drew one out walks ahead of Caplin, who had a pair of hits and scored three runs in the game. Caplin’s solid single brought Irvin home to make it 5-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, Snow Canyon got its first two batters on base with Jake Lindsay walking and Brendan Truman singling. Jacob Frei bunted the runners over to second and third, putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position. DH coach Jerry Beck elected to walk Chandler Day, which loaded the bases and set up a force at any base and the possibility of a double play.
The only problem with the plan was that it brought Clint Gates to the plate. Gates had just homered in the seventh to tie the game. The battle between Gates and File was classic, with Gates ripping a ground ball toward second base. But Irvin, the sophomore phenom shortstop for Desert Hills, jumped on the grounder and started a 6-4-3 game-ending double-play.
“To us this was more than just one win,” Beck said. “This is a game that erases any doubt of whether or not we’re contenders for the state championship. This also gives us a lot of confidence moving forward. Baseball is 90 percent momentum and confidence.”
The Thunder came into the game fired up, with a little pep in their step and immediately grabbed the lead in the top of the first inning. Caplin was hit by a pitch, went to second on a passed ball and stole third. He then scored on a single by Zac Ivie.
The Thunder pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fifth when Caplin scored on an error and File scored on an RBI single by Ivie.
The Warriors quickly responded by plating three runs in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by a Day double and RBI singles by Clint Gates and Brogan Secrist.
Ty Rutledge came through with an RBI single in the top of the seventh to put Desert Hills back ahead at 4-3. Rutledge’s liner came with two outs and Caplin at second.
Clint Gates led off the bottom of the seventh by hitting a moon shot about 400 feet over the tall fence in straightaway center field.
But the Thunder got the last laugh as they beat Snow Canyon on the Warriors home field.
“It’s just one win, but a big one,” Rutledge said. “They battled, we battled. It was a great game to watch, I imagine.”
The Thunder, now 9-3 overall and 4-0 in region, play at Canyon View Friday.
The Warriors, 9-5 and 3-2, got two hits each from Clint Gates and Day. Snow Canyon plays at Dixie Friday.
Cedar 4, Dixie 0
Brock Englestead and the Cedar Redmen finally got a region win, shutting down the Flyers along the way. Englestead, 4-2 on the year, allowed just three hits and his teammates played error-free behind him in the shutout.
The Redmen, 7-7 overall and 1-3 in region, had been playing solid defense and pitching well all year, but needed some run support. This time they got it as Malcolm Tripp doubled twice and Trevor Sanders also had a two-bagger. Cedar scored twice in the third and added two insurance runs in the sixth. Cedar plays at Hurricane Friday night.
Dixie, now 11-4 and 2-2, got a double from Cox, who also took the loss on the mound. The Flyers host Snow Canyon Friday.
Canyon View 7, Pine View 1
Panthers coach Mike Gargano went with a youth movement, starting four freshmen in the infield and two sophomores as the battery. While it did help shore up the defense, Pine View struggled at the plate, managing just four hits off of Canyon View’s Zack Brinkerhoff.
Keaton Kringlen doubled and the Falcons, 8-4 and 3-1, scored in every inning except the second. Canyon plays host to Desert Hills Friday.
Pine View, 5-7 and 1-4, plays next at Cedar next Tuesday.
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