ST. GEORGE — There’s no doubt baseball teams from around the state love coming to southern Utah in March for preseason tournaments. The weather is gorgeous, the fields are pristine and the quality of play is topnotch.
But playing against the host schools, well, that’s probably not too much fun at all.
Region 9 schools went 8-2 in four separate preseason tourneys Saturday, with Dixie, Pine View and Desert Hills winning two games each. Snow Canyon and Cedar picked up one win each.
“The competition was tough this weekend,” SC coach Reed Secrist said. “We’re all trying to improve and get ready for region play come April and I think we are improving.”
Here’s a rundown of Saturday’s action:
Snow Canyon Classic
West 12, Snow Canyon 3
Snow Canyon 5, Judge Memorial 2
The Panthers blew the early game open with eight runs in the fourth inning, taking advantage of six Warriors walks in the game.
Along with the six walks, SC also hit three West batters and committed two errors. West also had nine hits, including three by Jake Johnson.
Despite having to settle for the third place game, Snow Canyon responded with a nice outing against the Bulldogs. Nick Dolce was solid on the mound, allowing just three hits and no earned runs.
Garrett Hyde, Austin Deming and Tanner Howell all had two hits in the game for Snow Canyon, which outhit Judge 10-4.
SC built a 3-0 lead in the first two innings, with Howell’s RBI double aiding the Warrior cause. The Bulldogs were able to close within 4-2 in the fifth inning after SC’s only error of the game opened the door for a pair of runs.
But in the bottom half, Jackson Nowatzke hit a screamer over the right fielder’s head to set up an insurance run for Snow Canyon, which moved to 4-4 on the season. Deming closed out the sixth for the save as the game ended after six due to time constraints.
“We have a lot of young, inexperienced kids,” SC senior Brock Staheli said. “But we’re getting experience and hopefully getting to where we want to be before region. We’ve got a scrappy group. We’ve got a lot of kids in a lot of spots that want to fight for it.”
Snow Canyon hosts the Texas Roadhouse Classic next weekend with scheduled games against Lone Peak, Salem Hills and Springville.
Kent Garrett Dixie Sunshine Classic
Dixie 5, Wasatch 3
Dixie 10, Mountain View 0
The Flyers didn’t make it to the championship of their own classic, but they did get a couple of quality wins Saturday.
In the early game, Dixie brought home a couple of runs in the late innings to escape with the win. The Flyers, 7-2, were anxious to get back on the diamond after Friday’s disappointing 6-0 loss to Timpanogas.
“We’ve had plenty of opportunities to come up with that big hit in key situations and I thought today we did a much better job of that,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “I see a lot of good things and a lot of momentum that we’re starting to build. There are certainly some things we need to to work on still, but our pitching’s been good and defense has been spectacular.”
Late in the afternoon, Dixie hosted the Bruins and jumped on them right away.
The Flyers scored four runs in the first inning, with Hobbs Nyberg and Dayton Dempsey starting things off with back-to-back singles. With one out, Trevor Connell put Dixie on top with a sacrifice fly to right to plate Nyberg. Chance Vowell then followed with a double to make it 2-0 and, after a Duncan Staheli single, Vowell came home on a Mt. View error, making it 3-0.
Wyatt Woodland then singled to load the bases and Cade Christensen made it 4-0 with an RBI single to right field.
Dixie added another run in the second on a Staheli RBI, then made it 7-0 in the fourth after RBI doubles by Trevor Connell and Vowell.
At 8-0, Ipson began substituting liberally to get his youngest players some playing time. However, one of the remaining starters was Christensen, who whacked a liner to deep right field and, with a runner on base, turned the hit into an inside-the-park home run to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
With all that offense, Dempsey was able to put it on cruise control on the mound. He allowed just two hits and three walks in six innings of shutout work.
“It really feels good when your team scores early like that,” Dempsey said. “You have a cushion, you’re not worried about anything. That really helped me out. It really made me feel good and feel confident.”
Christensen had three hits and three RBIs to lead the Dixie offense. Dempsey, Vowell and Staheli had two hits each. Dixie had 14 hits overall and played error free on defense.
The Flyers hit the road next weekend for a Friday game at Maple Mountain (3:30 p.m.) and Saturday at Juab (3:30 p.m.).
Foot and Ankle Institute Invitational
Desert Hills 13, Westlake 5
Desert Hills 5, Kearns 3
The bats were a crackin’ against the Westlake Thunder for DH in the eight-run blowout, enabling Desert Hills to overcome four errors and three unearned runs.
Not to be outdone, Preston Creager socked a three-run shot as part of a five-run fourth to make it 9-4. Trey Winget had an RBI double in the rally as well.
Along with 10 Desert Hills hits, Westlake pitchers also surrendered seven walks and hit four DH batters.
Drew Thorpe got the win for the DH Thunder, allowing four hits and one earned run, though he did walk five batters. Blake Milne allowed one run in two innings of relief work.
Against Kearns, Desert Hills was the designated visiting team and the Thunder never trailed after Winget opened the game with a solo home run to center field.
The Cougars tied it with a run in the bottom half, but DH grabbed the lead for good when Winget again led off with a solo home run, this time in the third inning. Chance Milne followed with a double and he came home moments later on an RBI groundout by Brayson Hurdsman to make it 3-1.
It was 3-2 heading into the sixth when the Thunder were able to get two insurance runs thanks to a trio of Kearns errors.
Alex Ekins was money on the mound for DH, pitching six innings and allowing just one earned run. He scattered six hits and struck out seven, while allowing no walks in the game. Winget, after his hitting heroics, came in and got the save by pitching the seventh without allowing a hit.
Desert Hills, 5-3, is off until region play begins Apr. 5. The Thunder will start with a two-game set against Hurricane.
Red Rock Classic
Pine View 4, Cedar 2
Pine View 1, Pleasant Grove 0
Cedar 5, Spanish Fork 4
The earliest game of the day, a 9:30 a.m. start, pitted Region 9 rivals Pine View and Cedar at Dixie State University’s Bruce Hurst Field. The two teams that played for the state title a year ago (with Pine View winning), put together another impressive contest, with two late Panther runs spelling the difference.
Cedar matched that number with two in the bottom half of the first, with Rykker Tom scoring on a Trey Esplin RBI and then Esplin coming home on a PV error.
The two starting pitchers (Logan LaFemina for PV and Mitch Smith for Cedar) then settled into a groove and neither team scored in the 2-2 game until the sixth.
In the top half of the sixth, Donovan reached on a one-out single and then stole second. He was chased home with the go-ahead run on an RBI double by Clark to deep left field, making it 3-2.
A lead-off walk by Tom in the bottom of the sixth was followed by a Tom stolen base and then a groundout to move him to third with one out. But Clark, on in relief, forced a popup and a strikeout to preserve the lead.
The Panthers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Jarod Stirling tripled and pinch hitter Erik Sanchez singled him home.
The Redmen went down in order in the bottom half of the seventh.
Both teams won in their later games, with Pine View edging 5A defending champion Pleasant Grove and Cedar edging 4A defending champion Spanish Fork.
With aces Donovan (Pine View) and Derek Wall (Pleasant Grove) on the mound, there didn’t figure to be a lot of scoring in the Panther-Viking meeting. The only run of the game came for the visiting Panthers in the top of the first.
Tybo Johnston drew a one-out walk off of Wall, then stole second base. After a Brooks Barney walk, Donovan helped his own cause by singling through the hole on the left side, scoring Johnston.
Pine View would get seven more runners in scoring position over the course of the game, but would not score again.
Fortunately for the Panthers, Donovan was phenomenal. The senior Oregon State commit wriggled out of a couple of mid-game jams and came away with the five-hit shutout.
The Vikings best threats came in the third and fourth innings. In the third, PG got its first two runners on off of a PV error and a single by No. 9-hitter Brennen May. But the Panther defense was able to get the lead runner on two straight groundouts and Donovan ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the fourth, the Vikings loaded the bases with two outs on a walk, a single and a hit batsman. But Donovan struck out May to end that threat. PG would not get another runner past second base the rest of the game and Donovan struck out three of the last five batters he faced to record the shutout.
The Panthers, 6-2, will travel to a tournament in California over the Easter weekend, with four games scheduled over three days of action.
Cedar beat Spanish Fork by rallying for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Redmen also had 11 hits in the game off of SF’s solid pitching staff.
Cedar led 3-2 after five innings, but the Dons scored a run each in the sixth and seventh to take a 4-3 lead into the final half-inning.
Brandon Johnson got the win for Cedar, which improved to 4-4 on the year with the late afternoon win at DSU.
Next up for the Redmen is a home game vs. Payson Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and then a road game at Richfield Thursday (also 3:30).
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.