ST. GEORGE – For 5 1/2 innings, Dixie and Snow Canyon’s showdown for the Region 9 championship Friday night was as good as it gets, with neither team gaining a big edge and the huge crowd at Flyer Field hanging on every pitch.
And then the Flyers put their foot down.
Dixie scored nine runs in the bottom of the sixth – hitting three home runs – and brought down the mercy rule on the Warriors in the 10-0 victory that clinched the region crown and handed the Flyers the No. 1 seed heading into the 4A state playoffs.
Meanwhile, Cedar and Pine View each won against their respective opponents (Hurricane and Canyon View) and end up in a tie for fourth place and the final playoff spot. The Redmen and Panthers will play a play-in game to see which team will get into the 4A tournament as the fourth seed. The game will likely be Tuesday night at Hurricane High School at 7:30 p.m.
Here’s a look at what happened Friday night:
Dixie 10, Snow Canyon 0 (F/6)
“Feeling pretty good right now,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “There was a little pressure on us after losing last night and playing a great team like Snow Canyon. They gave us all we wanted today. Early in the game, I thought we pressed. We chased some pitches and just weren’t patient enough in the first part of the game. We did a better job of being patient in the sixth.”
With Cooper Vest on the mound for Dixie and surprise starter Makai Lee for Snow Canyon, it was definitely a pitchers’ duel for much of the night.
Vest, who is usually a master at control (only five walks all year coming into the game), issued six free passes and seemed destined to lose the lead. The Warriors loaded the bases in the second and fifth innings and had runners on in each of the first five stanzas. But each time Snow Canyon threatened, Vest had an answer. He ended up with nine strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
“Today, the arm definitely wasn’t feeling as good as it was last week against Pine View,” Vest said. “But you’ve got to go out there and chuck, no matter how your arm feels. I wasn’t able to locate my fastball at key times, so I relied a lot on my offspeed stuff, particularly my curveball. My curveball was really moving.”
In the second, he got out of a bases-loaded, no-outs situation with a force out at the plate, a strikeout and a harmless groundout. In the fifth, SC had the bases loaded with one out and Vest got a swinging strikeout and another weak groundout to preserve the shutout.
In the meantime, Dixie had its own struggles trying to score against Lee. Yates tripled in the first, but was left stranded. Wyatt Woodland led off the second with a double, but was also left at third.
The Flyers finally got a run home in the third. With two outs and two on, Region 9 RBI leader Chase Lundin hit a screamer through the box and over the bag at second base. Yates scored from second on the single and made it 1-0.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth. Vest had just struck out the side in the top of the sixth, but had thrown 108 pitches. As fans murmured about who would come out to pitch the seventh, the Dixie offense went to work.
With relief pitcher Travis Davenport on, the Flyers got a leadoff single from Wyatt Woodland. Payden Harrah and Tyson Miller both worked quality at-bats into walks and just like that, the bases were loaded. Reggie Graff then stepped into the batter’s box and roped a liner up the middle and past a drawn in infield. The two-run single made it 3-0.
No. 9 hitter Blake Oaks then drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases once again as Nyberg stepped up to the plate.
“He was kind of a little bit wild, so I was hunting a fastball in a certain spot,” Nyberg said. “I was just looking for a good pitch and he kind of left one over the plate and I put a good swing on it.”
His no doubter of a grand slam to right field suddenly jumped the score up to 7-0 and it was clear the Flyers were going to hoist the Region 9 crown once again. But with the win almost assured, Dixie went for the jugular.
Yates followed Nyberg with a solo shot, this time to left field, to make it 8-0. Three batters later, BB Blanchard singled on a high chopper to short, then Harrah quickly and succinctly ended the game with a two-run bomb to left field. He was mobbed at home plate after he rounded the bases.
Dixie ended up with 11 hits in the game, including two each by Nyberg, Woodland and Yates. The sophomore Vest, meanwhile, allowed just two base knocks and came away with his seventh win of the season.
“Coop didn’t exactly have his best stuff, but he has that bulldog in him enough that he was able to grit those outs out and keep us in the ball game,” Ipson said. “A tip of the cap to both starting pitchers for hanging in there and keeping it a close ball game.”
Dixie, region champs with an 11-1 record (22-3 overall), will host a playoff pod next Saturday at Flyer Field. Traveling to St. George for the pod will be Region 10 No. 4 (Salem Hills), Region 12 No. 3 (Ridgeline) and Region 11 No. 2 (probably Park City). The Flyers will play Salem Hills, most likely at 1 p.m. Saturday, with the pod championship game at 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon, 22-3 and 10-2, will travel to the pod hosted by Region 11 No. 1 Juan Diego. The Warriors will play Region 10 No. 3 Lehi in the first round, and then the corresponding winner/loser of Juan Diego-Mountain Crest that night.
“There are a lot of good teams with enough talent to make a run at a state championship,” Ipson said. “All four teams from Region 9 will be in a position to do that, plus three or four teams from up North. It’s going to be a dogfight from here on out.”
Pine View 7, Canyon View 1
Each team scored once in the first inning, with Cody Riddle knocking in a run in the top half and Quinn Spevak plating a teammate in the bottom half. And then the starting pitchers settled down and the outs started coming.
Riddle was the man on the mound for the Panthers and he ended up with a gem. He allowed just three hits in the game and didn’t surrender a run after that one in the first. He struck out six batters and used just 100 pitches in the complete game victory.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 in the fifth, Pine View put together a two-out rally. Jaiger Crosby reached on an error and Hunter Stubbs chased him home with an RBI double. Stubbs then came home on another Falcon error, making it 3-1.
In the top of the seventh, Pine View rallied again. Crosby singled and Stubbs walked to put two men on. Roman Lafemina hit a hard grounder that was booted, scoring Lafemina to make it 4-1. Tanner Staheli then singled to left to score Stubbs and make it 5-1. Riddle then doubled to right to score Staheli and it was 6-1. The final run came home on a sacrifice fly by Weston Sampson.
“Strong outing from all of the seniors,” said Pine View coach Gelen MacLellan. “Cody Riddle with a complete game. Tanner and Dawson Staheli with multiple key hits. Weston Sampson controlling the tempo of the game from behind the dish. Jaiger Crosby with key hits. Luke Green locking it down at third. Roman Lafemina disrupting the defense with his speed. Cooper Madison playing a solid first base.”
The Panthers had nine hits in the win, including three by Tanner Staheli and two each by Riddle and Crosby.
Pine View, 13-7 and 6-6, ends up tied for fourth place and will battle Cedar in a play-in game Tuesday night, most likely at 7:30 p.m. at Hurricane High. Canyon View, which got five strong innings from Josh Macinnis on the mound, ends the season with a 7-15 record (2-10 in region).
Cedar 10, Hurricane 0
Cedar scored in every inning, starting with a run on a balk by McClain Anderson in the first. Korby Myers then took advantage of another Hurricane balk and made it 2-0 in the second. Andre Castaneda then scored on a Hurricane error to make it 3-0.
In the third, Ethan Boettcher had a two-run single to make it 5-0 and Castaneda doubled to right to chase home Boettcher and make it 6-0. In the fourth, Myers and Boettcher each had RBI doubles to make it 8-0 and the Redmen closed out the mercy-rule win in the fifth with Luke Maggio scoring on a wild pitch and Markus Johnson singling home Bridger Bunnell with the walk-off game-winner.
The Redmen had 12 hits in the game off three Hurricane pitchers. Five players had two hits each, including Boettcher, Bunnell, Chase Houston, Myers and Castaneda. Tanner Eyre got the win on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out three.
Cedar, now 11-10 overall and 6-6 in region, plays Pine View in a 4A tournament play-in game Tuesday night, likely at Hurricane High at 7:30 p.m. The winner will travel to the Juan Diego pod on Saturday.
Desert Hills 6, Orem 3
Sam Rhoton and Bronson Andrus had RBIs to start things off right. Rhoton then scored on an error and it was 3-0 with just one out in the top of the first. Mason Creager than topped the first half-inning off right with a two-run homer to left field to make it 5-0.
The trio of Landon Levine, Bo Barben and Lance Kinross held the Tigers to just two earned runs (three overall) in the game, striking out five.
Orem got within 5-2, but Desert Hills added an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Barben singled to center, chasing home Kayden Goodman.
The Thunder, 16-6 overall, will play in the Sky View pod for the first two rounds of the 4A playoffs next Saturday.
Dixie 10, Snow Canyon 0
Pine View 7, Canyon View 1
Cedar 10, Hurricane 0
Desert Hills 6, Orem 3
Region 9 final standings (region, overall)
Dixie 11-1, 22-3
Snow Canyon 10-2, 22-3
Desert Hills 7-5, 16-6
Pine View 6-6, 13-7
Cedar 6-6, 11-10
Canyon View 2-10, 7-15
Hurricane 0-12, 7-16
Next week’s playoff games (all games Saturday, times tba)
Dixie pod – St. George (Dixie, Salem Hills, Ridgeline and Park City)
Spanish Fork pod – Spanish Fork (Spanish Fork, Cedar/Pine View, Bear River and Tooele)
Sky View pod – Smithfield (Sky View, Orem, Desert Hills and Ogden)
Juan Diego pod – Draper (Juan Diego, Snow Canyon, Lehi and Mountain Crest)
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