Prep baseball: Panthers lose close games at Red Rock Classic

Pine View vs. Copper Hills, Red Rock Classic Tournament, St. George, Utah, Mar. 15, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Pine View baseball coach Mike Gargano said there were two lessons to be learned today from the Panthers pair of close losses at the Red Rock Classic baseball tournament at Dixie State College’s Bruce Hurst Field.

Pine-view-smFirst, he wants his team to be focused, something lacking in a 7-5 loss to Box Elder. And second, sometimes even playing good baseball isn’t quite enough to get a win, as evidenced by a 9-8 loss at the hands of 5A Copper Hills.

“At times, we played very well today,” Gargano said. “We lost some focus today against Box Elder and committed some errors. I think if we can stay focused, we cannot be beaten. But when we lose focus and make mental errors, it really kills us.”

Against Copper Hills, a 5A power picked to finish at the top of Region 3, the Panthers fell down 6-2 in the fifth inning, but battled back for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game up at 6-6. Dylan Draper had a rope of a two-run double in the rally to make it a game once again.

Pine View vs Copper Hills, Red Rock Classic Tournament, St. George, Utah, Mar. 15, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News
Pine View vs. Copper Hills, Red Rock Classic Tournament, St. George, Utah, Mar. 15, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

“He’s been in a little bit of a slump, so it was really nice to see him hitting ropes out there,” Gargano said. “Dylan and Micah (Morgan) both hit the ball really hard today.”

The Grizzlies regained the lead in the top of the sixth with RBI singles by Ryan Barkdale and Zac Hoffman to make it 8-6, then added to the lead with a run in the seventh.

But the Panthers weren’t about to roll over, down three going into their final at-bat. Kash Walker and Connor Clark led off the seventh with hits and PV had the tying run at the plate with no outs. Things got a little weird here. Dakota Donovan hit a Texas-Leaguer into shallow right field. With runners on first and second, the umpire called an infield fly rule, though the ball was clearly headed into the outfield and didn’t look like it was going to be caught.

In fact, it was not caught as it landed between the first baseman, second baseman and right fielder. The Panther base runners advanced, but with the infield fly rule in effect, the batter was already ruled out. So the runners moved to second and third, but Donovan was called out, leaving PV with two on and one out instead of bases loaded and no outs.

Tyler Johnston was robbed of a hit on the next play by a great effort from the Copper Hills shortstop for the second out, but Morgan singled to chase home the two runs and make it 9-8 right after that. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Logan LaFemina’s hard line drive was right at the CH center fielder and ended the game.

“We hit some ball really hard against Copper Hills that went right at their guys, but that’s baseball,” Gargano said. “I was happy with the way we competed in that game. We can’t control some of the calls out there. Even though we lost a couple today, I feel like things are going really well for us. I’m excited for region to start.”

Pine View, 5-4, opens region at Hurricane Tuesday at 7 p.m., then turns around and hosts the Tigers at Panther Field Friday night, also at 7 p.m.

Stats: bepv31514 chpv31514

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