Prep baseball: ‘Wild Thing’ saves the day as PV captures region crown

Pine View's Connor Clark (26) scores as Desert Hills' Preston Creager (14) waits for a throw, Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — He said he’s never seen the movie, but there’s a pretty good chance Pine View pitcher Connor Clark will be viewing “Major League” on Netflix real soon.

pine-view-logodesert-hills-logoDoing his best impersonation of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Clark struck out three straight batters with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to help the Panthers beat Desert Hills 2-1 and capture the 2016 Region 9 baseball crown.

Connor "Wild Thing" Clark
Connor “Wild Thing” Clark

“Nope, I’ve never seen the movie,” said Clark, who entered the game in a pickle the size of Cleveland. The Panthers were clinging to that narrow lead and PV starter Brooks Barney, who had pitched a marvelous game, had just loaded the bases on a pair of walks sandwiched around a base hit.

“The coach almost lost the game in this one,” said PV coach Troy Wall. “I left Barney in too long. I should have trusted my bullpen.”

PA announcer and event manager Burke Staheli had clearly seen the movie as the Panther Field sound system blared “Wild Thing” as Clark went through his warm-ups. Clark’s first warm-up pitch echoed a loud pop in catcher Ryke Erickson’s glove and it was clear the right-hander was bringing gas into the situation.

Pine View's Jagun Leavitt (11), Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pine View’s Jagun Leavitt (11), Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“I felt pretty good,” Clark said. “My fastball was pretty hot. I didn’t think they’d be able to hit it tonight.”

Clark struck out Sam Rhoton on three straight fastballs, then got Trey Winget looking on an inside fastball. With two down, Clark then blew one past Quinn Kiser to spark a celebratory dogpile on the infield.

“I couldn’t breathe under there,” Clark said. “They got me with the ice, too.”

The total for Clark: Three batters, 14 pitches, 13 fastballs, three strikeouts and the biggest save of the season.

“I just felt confidence in what I was doing and I know I have the defense behind me to back me up,” Clark said. “It feels so good, winning region with all my bros. Desert Hills is a good team. Maybe we’ll see them again on the last Saturday of the season.”

Desert Hills' Chad Nelson (18), Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Chad Nelson (18), Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dakota Donovan and Brayson Hurdsman pitched an impressive duel Tuesday night, but Barney and Chad Nelson were equally impressive Friday night. Barney allowed just three hits and one run and Nelson gave up just two hits, with one of the two runs he allowed being unearned. The only Achilles heel for both hurlers — they each walked five batters

Pine View went ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the third as Donovan hit a grounder to third base with the bases loaded and one out. The Thunder third baseman rushed over and stepped on the bag, but then threw wild on the attempted double-play relay to first. Logan Lafemina scored on the fielder’s choice and then Clark came around from second on the error to make it 2-0, even though the Panthers had just one hit at the time. Nelson got a groundout to end the threat, but the damage was done.

Desert Hills got on the board the next half-inning as Chance Milne hit a deep fly ball to right-center that turned into a sacrifice fly, with Preston Creager racing home to make it 2-1.

And that was it for the scoring. Both teams threatened, but neither team could score again.

Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Baseball, May 6, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

In the seventh, perhaps trying to help his pitcher, Pine View catcher Jackson Bithell was reprimanded by the home plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes. Erickson entered the game having not played catcher at all this season in a varsity game (though he has played some third base). The junior stepped in and got the job done, despite the inexperience. He said it was no big deal.

“I was just excited to play, to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t really know what happened, but they told me to go catch and I was like, ‘All right, sweet, let’s go catch some baseballs.’ It was pretty fun.”

Boxscore: DHPV5616

Like last year, Pine View finished the close region race with a sweep of the Thunder and will be the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. That’s significant as the Panthers (16-6) will get to host a playoff “pod” next Saturday at Panther Field. Coming to St. George will be Region 11 No. 4 Morgan, which will face Pine View in the first round, as well as Juab (Region 12 No. 2) and Grantsville (Region 10 No. 3), who will square off in the first round as well. The winners and losers will then meet in the second round, also at Pine View.

Desert Hills, 12-12, will travel just up the road to the Canyon View pod and will face Logan (R11-3) in the first round. Canyon View will play Union.

Dixie, the third seed from Region 9, sports a 14-6 record and will travel to Stansbury, which won Region 10. The Flyers will play Bear River and the Stallions will battle Richfield.

Cedar, which beat Hurricane 11-1 Friday night to grab the final playoff spot from Region 9, will travel to Draper and take on Region 11 champ Juan Diego next Saturday. Park City and Carbon are also in that pod.

The full bracket is here.

The Redmen, 11-12, won their last three games to get that playoff spot. Cedar had started region play 1-6 before stunning Desert Hills and then sweeping the Tigers.

cedar-logohurricane-logoAgainst Hurricane Friday, the Redmen got their offense cranked up. Cedar scored six runs in the first three innings. Hurricane made a bid to get back in the game in the fourth. The Tigers scored a run and had the bases loaded with one out. But CHS pitcher Berick Englestead wriggled out of the jam with no further harm done.

The Redmen scored two more in the fifth and then Brock Oldroyd came up with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to end the game via the UHSAA mercy rule.

Englestead got the win and Treyson Esplin had a run-scoring double in the game. Nick Horsley had a double for the Tigers, who finish the year 8-11 overall and 3-7 in region.

Region 9 Final Standings
Pine View  8-2, 16-6
Desert Hills 6-4, 12-12
Dixie  6-4, 14-6
Cedar  4-6, 11-12
Hurricane  3-7, 8-11
Snow Canyon  3-7, 8-15

3A Playoff pods — Saturday, May 14
@Pine View
Pine View (R9-1) vs. Morgan R11-4, 10 a.m.
Juab (R12-2) vs. Grantsville (R10-3), 12:30 p.m.
Losers meet at approx. 3 p.m.
Winners meet at approx. 5 p.m.

@Juan Diego
Juan Diego (R11-1) vs. Cedar (R9-4), 10 a.m.
Park City (R10-2) vs. Carbon (R12-3), 12:30 p.m.
Losers meet at approx. 3 p.m.
Winners meet at approx. 5 p.m.

@Canyon View
Canyon View (R12-1) vs. Union (R10-4), 10 a.m.
Desert Hills (R9-2) vs. Logan (R11-3), 12:30 p.m.
Losers meet at approx. 3 p.m.
Winners meet at approx. 5 p.m.

@Stansbury
Stansbury (R10-1) vs. Richfield (R12-4), 10 a.m.
Bear River (R11-2) vs. Dixie ()R9-3), 12:30 p.m.
Losers meet at approx. 3 p.m.
Winners meet at approx. 5 p.m.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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