Dixie High team flies high to American Legion baseball state title

Dixie players after winning the American Legion 17U state baseball championship, St. George, Utah, July 18, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Dixie High School’s junior varsity baseball team won the American Legion 17U state championship Saturday, coming through the one-loss bracket to claim the title with back-to-back wins over Kearns.

As previously reported in St. George News, the Flyers started the week off with a bye on Monday, followed by a 7-2 win over Herriman on Tuesday. Dixie then lost to Kearns 10-6 on Wednesday, dropping them into the one-loss bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Dixie then shut out Cedar City 10-0 Thursday morning, after which the Flyers defeated Lone Peak 5-0 Thursday night. 

Friday morning, Dixie faced Skyline, which had lost to Kearns in the semifinals the night before. 

Dixie took a 1-0 lead over Skyline in the first inning, then added two more runs in the third and three more in the fourth, eventually rolling to a 12-1 victory over five innings. Starter Malcolm Bartholemew was the winning pitcher for Dixie.

That win over Skyline put Dixie into a rematch with Kearns, the team they had lost to two days earlier, for the tournament championship.

Dixie players take the field against Kearns during American Legion 17U state baseball championship, St. George, Utah, July 18, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

Friday night on their own home field, the Flyers made short work of the Cougars, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and coasting to a 11-0 win in five innings. Bartholomew threw another 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit, as he picked up his second straight win. 

“We were able to keep him under the pitch count,” said Dixie head coach Danny Ipson, referring to the daily limit of throws allowed each pitcher. 

Dixie recorded six hits during the Friday’s win over Kearns and saw 10 additional batters reach base on walks.

Since Friday’s game was Kearns’s first tournament loss, that meant the same two teams had to play each other again on Saturday for the championship.

Saturday evening, also at Dixie High, the Flyers fell behind Kearns 2-0 in the first inning, but roared back to take a 7-2 lead after two innings. Dixie ended up winning 10-2 in seven innings, with Cayson Bell going the distance on the mound for the Flyers.

“It was great to see the boys battle back through the losers’ bracket,” Ipson said. “We played some great defense and had some great performances on the mound from Malcolm Batholemew, GJ Erickson, Luis Acuna and Cayson Bell.”

“Offensively, we came alive after the loss to Kearns in the third round,” the coach added. “It was great to see some resilience from our team to keep battling on some long, hot summer days.”

“It’s always nice to play at home,” Ipson added. “We spend so much time working on our field, there is some comfort playing there.”

“Defense was the key to turning the tide. It set us up to go on a roll offensively. We were finally able to get some key hits when we needed them.”

Dixie shortstop Hunter Knighton, who batted .575 for the week with 13 hits, 15 runs scored and 11 RBIs, was named the tournament MVP.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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