ST. GEORGE — Hurricane went 0-12 in Region 9 baseball last season, and is 7-88 in league play since 2008, so winning 6-5 at Desert Hills Monday night was kind of a big deal.
“I can’t even talk, it’s just so surreal. It’s been awhile since we’ve won a region game ,” said Hurricane pitcher Kyle Williams. “But as long as you have good pitching and good defense, you always give yourself a chance to win. That’s what we did tonight.”
Under first-year head coach Jon Homer, the Tigers are 7-5 overall and 1-1 after winning the rain-postponed game at Thunder Field Monday night. Is Hurricane a finished product, ready to compete with the big boys in 3A? Maybe, maybe not, but the Tigers served notice that they aren’t a doormat any longer.
“I don’t feel like the score from our loss Tuesday to Desert Hills is indicative of how we played,” Homer said. “We talked about mental toughness after that and I just told them, 100 percent, that I truly believe we’re better than Desert Hills and that’s what we’re working on here, that culture of change.”
Hurricane won the game with solid pitching and excellent defense, perhaps two items that have been in short supply in past years.
“People don’t understand how much hard work we’ve all put in,” Hurricane’s Alec Flemetakis said. “This team has come together as one since we were tiny and now it’s starting to show. I don’t know, it’s just a good feeling knowing we finally won a region game.”
Williams and Desert Hills right-hander Chad Nelson dueled to a stalemate through seven innings, with both pitchers striking out numerous batters and allowing just a single run each.
Even when the relievers took over in the eighth inning, the game stayed tied.
And then came the crazy ninth ninth inning.
The Tigers started it off with a walk by Nick Horsley, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. He broke the 1-1 tie by scoring on a ground ball by Michael Lacy that was mishandled by the DH shortstop. Eventually Hurricane loaded the bases and Noah Humphrey came through with a two-run single to make it 4-1. Humphrey was making his first start after starring at the junior varsity level.
Williams then ripped an RBI double to right field to make it 5-1 and Humphrey scored moments later on a passed ball to push it to 6-1.
But give Desert Hills credit. Down five in the bottom of the ninth, the Thunder battled, loading the bases with one out for slugger Brayson Hurdsman. The big guy socked the first pitch he saw from Flemetakis over the right field fence to make it 6-5.
But the home run cleared the bases, meaning DH would have to start from scratch, still behind by a run with one out. After a strikeout, Nelson doubled to left to put the tying run in scoring position with two outs. Flemetakis then induced a ground ball that was scooped up by Thomas Christianson at second base. He gunned it over to first base to end the game.
“To put the five runs across to get the lead was awesome,” Homer said. “It was a total role reversal from last Tuesday. They took advantage of us on those (mistakes) and tonight we got them. But one win can’t be good enough, and that’s what we’re working on. Every single game in this region is so tough … but if we can play clean and limit those errors and hit in timely situations, then we can hang with those region teams.”
The two teams will have to scramble with their pitching situations the rest of the week as they each have games scheduled for Tuesday and Friday.
The Tigers go from the frying pan into the fire with a two-game set against Pine View, giving Hurricane a quick taste of the two teams that tied for the region title a year ago. Hurricane hosts the Panthers Tuesday night and then travels to PVHS Friday night. Tuesday’s game will be on ESPNRadio 97.7 FM. Both games are at 7 p.m.
Desert Hills, which got three hits from Daniel Arrey and two from Preston Creager in the game, drops to 6-9 overall and 1-1 in region. The Thunder will host Dixie Tuesday night and then travel to the new Flyer Field Friday night.
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