Amazing Cooper Vest is unhittable again; Panthers pound Desert Hills

Dixie vs. Cedar, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 17, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Two of Region 9’s top pitchers were on their games Tuesday night, with Dixie’s Cooper Vest tossing his third no hitter of the season, and Snow Canyon’s Breck Eichelberger continuing his impressive season-long scoreless streak as both the Flyers and Warriors won in blowout fashion. Meanwhile, Pine View got its bats going against Desert Hills and stunned the Thunder on their own field Tuesday night.

The evening’s results leave Dixie and Snow Canyon tied atop the region, with Pine View, Desert Hills and Cedar all within a game of each other for second-through-fifth place. Only the top four teams make the state playoffs.

Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s action:

Dixie 14, Cedar 0

Certainly Vest deserves the top billing for his spectacular performance on the mound. The left-handed sophomore used an array of pitches, including a knee-buckling curveball, to baffle the Redmen hitters. He struck out 13 batters and was just two first-inning walks away from perfection.

“It was fun,” Vest said. “It seems like I struggle a little bit in the first inning. But after that, I just let my game do the talking. I just try to hit (catcher) Chase Lundin’s glove and I know the defense will back me up if I miss a little.”

Dixie’s Chase Lundin (34), Dixie vs. Cedar, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 17, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

And while Vest certainly was spectacular, perhaps Lundin should start to garner a little more attention. He’s been on the receiving end of all those no hitters, plus has done plenty with his bat to help Dixie to its 18th win of the year.

“Chase has always been great for us and very strong for us behind the plate,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “But this year, from an offensive standpoint, he’s worked his way up the lineup and been a solid clean-up hitter for us over the course of the last month or so. And he just continues to hit the ball well. He always puts himself in good counts.”

It’s hard to get much attention on a team that has the likes of Vest, Tyson Fisher and Hobbs Nyberg, but nights like Tuesday will do it. Lundin went 3 for 3 with a single, a double and a home run and five runs batted in.

“I guess I’m just seeing the ball well,” Lundin said. “I’ve been practicing a lot on my swings, going out to the cages with my dad at night, just working hard. I like that first-pitch fastball, because most pitchers throw that first pitch as a fastball.”

Dixie’s Cooper Vest (7), Dixie vs. Cedar, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 17, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

With two on and one out in the bottom of the first, Lundin caromed one off the left field fence for a two-run double. In the third, Lundin cleared that same fence with a two-run homer just after Fisher had doubled down the third-base line. Lundin’s final at-bat in the mercy-rule shortened game resulted in a lined single to left off a curveball that brought in his fifth RBI of the game.

In the meantime, Vest was mowing them down like a self-propelled John Deere. He went strikeout, walk, strikeout, walk, strikeout in the first inning. Those would be the only two base runners of the game for Cedar. Vest struck out the side in the second, had two Ks in the third, struck out the side in the fourth and K’d two more in the fifth. On the season, Vest has a 5-0 record with 60 strikeouts and five walks. His earned run average drops to 0.23 and he’s given up just nine hits in 31 innings pitched.

Lundin, meanwhile, is hitting .490 with 27 RBIs (second in Region 9) and a slugging percentage of .843.

Nyberg and Reggie Graff were also solid at the plate for Dixie, each collecting two hits. Nyberg was 2 for 4 with three RBIs, while Graff went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Payden Harrah also homered for the Flyers.

Dixie pounded out 13 hits, scoring four runs in the first, four more in the third and six in the fourth. The Flyers had sleep-walked through a 6-1 victory over Canyon view last Friday. Ipson wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.

“We challenged our guys last Friday and we followed up with it yesterday,” he said. “I think they responded. We talked about leaving runners on base and we also talked about where we were as a team and having better at-bats.”

Dixie is now 18-2 overall and 7-0 in Region 9. The Flyers play Cedar again Friday, this time with an afternoon (4 p.m.) game in Cedar City. Expected starting pitchers will be Fisher for Dixie and Tanner Eyre for Cedar.

Pine View 10, Desert Hills 4

The Panthers weren’t intimidated and it showed. Facing Thunder ace pitcher Blake Milne, who ranks in the top 10 in the region in earned run average, wins, strikeouts and opponent batting average, Pine View went out and chased Milne from the game.

The Panthers scored two runs in the first, three in the third and five in the fifth to steal the road win away. Milne barely made it to the fifth and reliever Lance Kinross was ineffective as well. That left Pine View starter Cooper Madison with a cushy lead to work with. Madison responded by allowing just three earned runs in pitching the complete game victory.

Roman Lafemina opened the game with a walk and eventually scored on an RBI single by Dawson Staheli. Cody Riddle, who had also singled, came home on a D-Hills error and it was 2-0 in the early going.

File photo, Pine View’s Dawson Staheli (6), Pine View vs. Cedar, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Panthers pushed the advantage to 5-0 in the top of the third. Tanner Staheli doubled, then came home on a triple by Riddle with one out. Dawson Staheli’s RBI double made it 4-0, then scored on another Thunder error to make it 5-0.

Bronson Andrus, who leads Region 9 in RBIs (31), got Desert Hills on the board with a two-run single in the bottom of the third. The score stayed that way until the top of the fifth, when a big five-run rally put the game away for the visiting Panthers.

Tanner Staheli led off the fifth with a walk, followed by a Riddle single. Dawson Staheli was hit by Kinross, loading the bases. The next batter, Weston Sampson, singled to center to make it 6-2. After a popout, Porter Dombrowski also got hit by a pitch, forcing home a run and making it 7-2.

Hunter Stubbs and Lafemina both hit two-out RBI singles to make it 9-2 and Tanner Staheli walked in a run to push it out to 10-2.

Jayden Peterson and Trey Allred each had an RBI later in the game for Desert Hills, but the Thunder never really got to Madison as Pine View captured the road victory.

Riddle and Dawson Staheli combined to go 5 for 7 with three RBIs and five runs scored for Pine View, which improved to 11-4 overall and 4-3 in region play.

Allred, Sam Rhoton and Jaxton Reber had two hits each for Desert Hills, which drops to 12-5 overall and 5-4 in region games. Dallen Turner pitched the final 2 1/3 innings for the Thunder and allowed no runs.

The two teams meet again Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Panther Field. Expected starters are Tanner Staheli for PV and Drew Thorpe for DH.

Snow Canyon 11, Hurricane 0

Breck Eichelberger has pitched 38 innings this 2018 season, facing seven different teams along the way. None of them have figured the Snow Canyon senior out.

Eichelberger allowed one hit and one walk, striking out 12 Tigers, en route to yet another shutout. The Snow Canyon ace has yet to allow an earned run this season and has given up just 22 hits and 10 walks. Opponents are hitting a measly .162 off of him, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a stellar 5-1.

Meanwhile, the Snow Canyon offense was hitting on most of its cylinders. SC scored three in the first, three in the second, one in the fourth and four in the top of the sixth to finally bring the mercy rule into play.

File photo, Snow Canyon’s Austin Deming (13), Pine View vs. Snow Canyon, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 29, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Seth Smith started the game with a walk and eventually came home on a wild pitch. Later in the first, Stephen Gubler hit a bases loaded two-run single to make it 3-0.

In the top of the second, Smith had an RBI single with one out to score Brock Secrist and make it 4-0. Brooks Sampson scored on an error and then Austin Deming singled home Smith to make it 6-0.

Deming hit the first pitch of the fourth inning over the left field fence to make it a 7-0 game and it stayed that way until the sixth. In that inning, Deming led off with a triple to right field and scored on a Tim Shakespeare RBI that made it 8-0. Jed Jensen’s single made it 9-0 and then Braden Baker hit an RBI double to make it 10-0. The final run came home on an RBI walk by Smith.

Eichelberger gave up just one hit, a double by Kage Akipoleka in the bottom of the fifth. He also allowed a walk in that inning, but got out of the jam with a groundout and a strikeout.

Snow Canyon ended up with 11 hits, including three by Deming and two each by Austin Staheli and Secrist. Deming’s homer was his region-leading sixth of the season. The Warriors also stole five bases in the game.

Snow Canyon is now 19-1 overall and 7-0 in region games. The Warriors have outscored opponents 69-9 in seven region games. Hurricane drops to 7-11 and 0-7.

The two teams meet again Friday at Warrior Field at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s results
Dixie 14, Cedar 0
Pine View 10, Desert Hills 4
Snow Canyon 11, Hurricane 0

Region 9 standings (region, overall)
Snow Canyon  7-0, 19-1
Dixie  7-0, 18-2
Pine View  4-3, 11-4
Desert Hills  5-4, 12-5
Cedar  4-5, 9-9
Hurricane  0-7, 7-11
Canyon View  0-8, 5-12

Upcoming games
Wednesday

Canyon View at Mountain View, 3:30 p.m.
Friday
Dixie at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Hurricane at Snow Canyon, 7:30 p.m.
Desert Hills at Pine View, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday
Westlake at Canyon View, 1 p.m.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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