ST. GEORGE – Unsure how his undefeated team would come out against sixth-place Pine View Tuesday night, Desert Hills coach Jerry Beck decided to give his players a little extra motivation. So he passed along a tidbit of information he just received, that second-place Snow Canyon had just lost at Cedar.
Seeing the opportunity to clinch at least a tie for the region title, the Thunder came out and buried Pine View 14-3 for their ninth straight Region 9 win.
“Yeah, we told them,” Beck said. “I thought it would help us re-focus on tonight’s game knowing we could clinch region with this win. I think it helped.”
Leadoff hitter Kaleb Caplin, who had two hits and an RBI, agreed.
“I believe it helped a lot,” he said. “We were pumped. It fired us up knowing we could clinch. Plus it helped us again realize that anybody can win on a given night.”
Desert Hills jumped up early, scoring two runs in the first inning. Bryce Gibson and Dylan File both singled and Gibson scored on an error. File came across a moment later on an RBI groundout by Zac Ivie.
Pine View’s Dylan Draper cut the 2-0 lead in half as Pine View’s first batter in the bottom of the second when he homered to straightaway left field off of DH starter Baden Powell.
I was surprised, but not too worried after that home run,” Beck said. “I had confidence Baden would settle down and pitch a good game and he did.”
Powell had plenty of help as the Thunder bats were alive and kicking. Desert Hills scored in every inning and had at least two runs in all but the fifth inning.
Bryce Gibson had an RBI single and File knocked home two more with a double to make it 5-1 in the second inning. Ty Rutledge, Carson Clement and Blake Betts all scored in the third to make it 8-1. And Rutledge completed one of baseballs most exciting plays in the fourth inning with a two-run inside-the-park homer.
“I got a little lucky,” said the athletic Rutledge, who never slowed down after his line drive got past a diving Pine View center fielder and rolled all the way to the fence.
Pine View showed a little life with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Parker Leavitt scored on a double by Brooks Barney and Dakota Donovan scored on a wild pitch to make it 10-3. Powell worked out of the fourth, then File pitched the final two innings, striking out seven (one strikeout victim was safe at first after a passed ball).
The Thunder finally got it to the mercy-rule area with a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to end the game early.
“We can’t worry about what anyone else is doing,” Rutledge said. “We just want to go out and hit the ball and play good defense because we are pretty confident in our pitchers.”
The Thunder, 14-5 overall and 9-0 in region, lead Snow Canyon by two and a half games. DH finishes the year at home against Snow Canyon (Friday), at home vs. Canyon View (Apr. 30) and at Hurricane (May 3).
Pine View, which committed five errors in the game to DH’s one, ends the year with two home games: this Friday vs. Canyon View and next Friday vs. Cedar.
Cedar 3, Snow Canyon 2 (8 innings)
Hunter Low did something no one else has been able to do the past two weeks – slow down the Snow Canyon bats. Low allowed just two runs in seven innings and also hit a home run himself as the Redmen shocked the Warriors. Brock Englestead actually got the win by pitching a scoreless eighth, but there’s no doubt Low was the hero. The Warriors had been averaging 12.5 runs a game the last four games.
Brogan Secrist would have been the hero had SC pulled it out. He pitched a whale of a game himself and also had a triple.
It was a crucial win for the Redmen, who are in a dogfight for the final playoff spot from Region 9. Cedar, 4-5 in region, is a game behind both Canyon View and Dixie. Only two of the three teams can make the postseason. The Redmen are at Dixie Friday, then close the regular season next week at home against Hurricane and at Pine View.
Snow Canyon, 13-6 and 7-3, is pretty much locked into the No. 2-seed with the loss. The Warriors are at Desert Hills Friday in a game that lost some luster with the Cedar loss. Even a Snow Canyon win Friday would leave them with just an outside shot of tying for the region title.
Canyon View 7, Hurricane 2
The Falcons put the game away with four runs in the sixth inning. Jesse Johnson got the win on the hill while Keaton Kringlen had two triples for Canyon View. They were Kringlen’s third and fourth triples of the year and the speedster leads the region with 16 extra-base hits.
CV, 5-4 in Region 9, has three region games left: at Pine View Friday and at Desert Hills next Tuesday, then at home vs. Dixie May 3 in what could be a loser-out game.
The Tigers, 6-13 and 1-9, take Friday off and play at Cedar next Tuesday.
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