ST. GEORGE – It seems so simple: Throw the breaking ball for strikes, stay ahead in the count and keep the ball down.
That’s the winning formula against good hitting teams and Desert Hills used it Friday night to hand the Dixie Flyers their first loss of the season, 6-2.
“It does seem simple, but for some reason it’s not,” Thunder coach Jerry Beck said. “We have a ton of respect for Dixie’s hitters. One through nine, they swing it. But our guys were able to keep them off-balance and throw a lot of off-speed stuff for strikes.”
Kaleb Caplin and Baden Powell combined to allow the Flyers just two runs and seven hits. Desert Hills also played stellar defense, committing just one error.
“We made some mistakes early in the game, but I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Beck said.
With two on and nobody out in the first inning, the Thunder got a hit that would have loaded the bases. But aggressive base running cost DH this time as Caplin got called out at the plate and seconds later Bryce Gibson got called out trying to advance to third.
The exciting double-play should have handed Dixie some momentum. But Caplin was nearly untouchable early in the game.
“I thought the coaches called a heck of a game and I was really hitting my spots,” Caplin said. “I was really ready for this game. I felt great out there, although I got a little tired late in the game.”
With a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Beck sent for Powell, who came in and did what was necessary to save the game. Although he did allow two runs to come in out of the bases loaded jam he inherited, Powell finished the game and helped the Thunder to the road win.
“I love coming in in those pressure situations,” Powell said. “Some people don’t like it, but I thrive in those situations. I felt like we were more focused tonight.”
The biggest offensive moment of the night for Desert Hills came with a little assist from Dixie’s defense, which committed three errors in the game.
With the bases loaded, Gibson lined a hit to right that would have scored one, maybe two. But the Dixie left fielder let the ball skim past him and three runs came in, with Gibson ending up all the way at third. He scored moments later to make it 5-0 and the game was essentially over at that point.
Dixie did get those two in the sixth to make it 5-2, but DH got an insurance run in the seventh.
“It’s early and Region 9 is just this way,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “There will be plenty of wins for teams who have good nights. The key is avoiding those losing streaks. We’ll be all right. There’s a lot of baseball left.”
Beck told his team to enjoy being in first place, even if it is early.
“Unfortunately, the trend at Desert Hills has been to start slowly and then to have to dig our way out of a hole in region,” Beck said. “Our focus this year has been to start strong and that’s been huge for us.”
Desert Hills is a half-game ahead of Canyon View and a full game ahead of Dixie, Pine View and Snow Canyon. The Thunder, 7-3 and 2-0 in region, play host to Pine View Wednesday night.
Dixie, which fell to 8-1 and 1-1, plays Roy and Fremont Saturday in a pair of non-league games. Fremont is coached by former Dixie coach Jeff Messerly.
Pine View 13, Hurricane 3
Micah Morgan got the win for the Panthers, who had another explosive offensive night. Leading 5-3 in the sixth, Pine View batted around and plated eight to invoke the mercy rule.
Morgan did it all, striking out five and also getting three of the Panthers’ 17 hits. Pine View, 5-4 overall and 1-1 in region, is averaging more than eight runs a game, tops in the region. The Panthers host Dixie Tuesday night.
Hurricane had five hits and three runs in the game, but couldn’t keep up with the hot Pine View bats. The Tigers fall to 4-6-1 and have lost their fifth straight. Hurricane plays at Snow Canyon Tuesday.
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