ST. GEORGE — The Flyers are back in action.
After a slower start to the season, Dixie won five games in a row and ascended to fourth place in the standings. They’re still on the outside looking in on the three-way tie for first place, but after hovering around .500 for most of the season they have cemented themselves among the top-half of the league with a 9-4 regional record.
They got to this point passing their biggest test of the season on Tuesday, shutting out the then-sole possessors of first place, Snow Canyon. Behind Malcolm Bartholomew’s complete game, the Flyers became the first team to keep Snow Canyon off the board all season.
“I just felt good,” Bartholomew told St. George News. “The energy in the dugout was good the whole time. My boys were keeping me up. Every pitch was working. No matter what I threw, they were just popping it up, hitting it straight into the ground or just whiffing. I just felt awesome.”
Bartholomew wrapped up a tidy two-hitter in just over an hour and 30 minutes. He retired the last 10 batters he faced, and the only one to reach in the final 16 came by way of an error at shortstop. Isaac Lyon hit a single in the first, and Easton Rigby hit a double over center fielder Brieten Oaks’ head in the second. No other Warrior reached via hit.
The strikeout wasn’t there for the majority of the game until the seventh and final inning, when Bartholomew came within one pitch of an immaculate inning — striking out the side on nine pitches. After getting Mayze Mosher and Sam Lindsey to go down on three pitches each, he got Jackson Ence down 0-2 before spiking a pitch in the dirt. He had to settle for the 10-pitch, three-strikeout inning instead, getting Ence looking on the next delivery to end the contest.
Those three punchouts brought his total to eight strikeouts in the game. In the first six innings, he relied heavily on contact, inducing weak contact in the air. He induced 12 total outs in the air including three pop outs on the infield. He got only one out on the ground.
Notedly, he didn’t issue a single walk. Only 16 of his 79 pitches were balls. Bartholomew, in essence, told Region 9’s most potent lineup “Here it is, try to hit it” all night and came away completely unscathed.
“(Bartholomew) was on top of the world tonight,” Dixie catcher Jaxon Mackelprang said. “He hit every spot, just shoving the whole game. … As soon as you locate, it’s game over for them. He was on the dot.”
Offensively, the Flyers didn’t find much success against Snow Canyon’s pitching either but manufactured enough offense to come away victorious. They were also held off the board in the first three innings before posting three runs in the fourth with very little hard contact of their own.
It started with an Oaks double, the Flyers’ lone extra-base hit of the game. He scored immediately on a first-pitch single by Jacob St. Cyr, slapping a pitch the other way on the ground and into right field. Jayden Davis followed with another single in the same fashion on the following pitch before Dane Thorpe singled up the middle to drive in St. Cyr, with the two trail runners moving up on the throw home.
Grayson Erickson followed with a ground ball back to Lyon, who came home with the throw while Davis scampered back to third to load the bases for a fourth straight ground ball single. Luis Acuña pulled a grounder to second base to drive in Davis on the next pitch. As the Warriors focused on launch angle and getting the ball in the air to no avail, Dixie did all their damage on the ground, working the ball up the middle and away.
“We’ve been after our guys to kind of change a little bit of their approach at the plate, be a little shorter and go that way,” Dixie head coach Danny Ipson said. “We had some success with that tonight. Hopefully we learned from that. We had a couple games we dropped early in the season where really all we needed to do was make contact with the baseball, and we were able to do that tonight.”
The Flyers added their fourth run in the next inning as Shea Anderson walked, stole second, stole third and went home on an overthrow by the catcher to third.
It all meshed together to turn into Dixie’s fifth straight win after sweeping Hurricane and Canyon View. It’s the team’s sixth win in their last seven contests after sitting at 3-3 on April 9. They are cemented in fourth place in Region 9 but can do wonders for their RPI and keep the Region 9 crown out of Snow Canyon’s hands with another win on Thursday.
“You get hot at the right time, it all works out,” Bartholomew said. “We feel likely we’ve finally figured it out, so once we get (to the playoffs), it’ll be great.”
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