ST. GEORGE – Call them the 3A opening rounds mini-tournaments, pods or hardball postseason capsules, but one thing’s for sure: the 3A State Baseball Tournament kicks into high gear Saturday.
With 16 games scheduled for four different sites statewide, there is bound to be an upset or two, even a shocker, plus coaches gambling on starting pitcher rotation, base runners testing unknown catchers’ arms and lots and lots of clutch hitting.
When the dust clears, four teams will emerge unscathed into the winner’s bracket and will be set up for day games next Thursday at Bruce Hurst Field. Four other teams will end their seasons Saturday and start thinking about summer vacation. The final eight 3A baseball clubs will submerge into that deadly swamp known as the one-loss bracket, where it will take seven wins in three days to become state champion.
Of course, no one wants to be eliminated Saturday, but almost as dreadful is the one-loss bracket, which taxes teams stamina and calls to service every pitcher on the school’s freshman, JV and varsity rosters.
“Nobody wants to be there,” Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist said. “Not that you can’t win a championship that way. It’s not impossible. But you’d sure be making life hard for yourself.”
And so Region 9’s representatives – champion Desert Hills, plus two-seed Snow Canyon, three-seed Canyon View and four-seed Dixie – embark on the most crucial day of the 2013 season. Here’s a look at what to expect:
Desert Hills Pod
Games: Wasatch (13-7, ) vs. Payson (14-8), 10 a.m.
Grantsville (15-7) vs. Desert Hills (17-5), 12:30 p.m.
Note: Losers play at 3 p.m., winners play at 5:30 p.m.
Favorite: Desert Hills – The No. 1-ranked Thunder have yet to prove themselves on the big stage, but emerging from Region 9 without a loss is remarkable.
Region 9 angle: It would be stunning for the Thunder to struggle in these first two rounds as they have been the model of consistency this season.
Likely starting pitchers: Wasatch’s Kyle Kelly (6-2) and Mason Holmes (3-1); Payson’s Wyatt Voorhees (8-1) and Hayden Knotts (5-2); Grantsville’s Landon Hammond (5-4) and Skyler Cloward (3-1); Desert Hills’ Baden Powell (5-1) and Kaleb Caplin (3-2).
Power hitters (extra-base hits): Wasatch’s Taggart Baxter (12), Payson’s Stockton Knotts (10), Grantsville’s Kelby Landon (14), Desert Hills’ Zac Ivie (10).
Quotable coach: “I don’t know that we’re going to go out and “Wow!” anybody. We’re just consistent and steady and keep an even keel. That’s how we went undefeated in region.” – DH coach Jerry Beck.
Spanish Fork Pod
Games: Morgan (13-11) vs. Snow Canyon (14-8), 11 a.m. (At SF Sports Park)
Uintah (10-9) vs. Spanish Fork (16-5), 11 a.m.
Note: Winners and losers play at 2 p.m.
Favorite: This is a tricky one as both Snow Canyon and Spanish Fork will save their aces for their expected 2 p.m. grudge match. If the Warriors have a fresh Riley Gates on the mound, I wouldn’t bet against them.
Region 9 angle: There is a ton of respect between these two teams (SC and SF). Respect, and a whole bunch of animosity. If you can afford the gas, get to Spanish Fork by 2 p.m. for the game of the day.
Likely starting pitchers: Morgan Cameron Skinner (3-1) and Lantzen Toomer (3-1); Snow Canyon’s Brogan Secrist (5-1) and Riley Gates (4-4); Uintah’s Braiden Labrum (6-3) and Skyler Parker (4-1); Spanish Fork’s Cort Nielsen (6-1) and Conner Johnson (5-2).
Power hitters (extra-base hits): Morgan’s Lantzen Toomer (12), Snow Canyon’s Chandler Day (12), Uintah’s Braiden Labrum (11), Spanish Fork’s Lincoln Rivera (11).
Quotable coach: “This is a business trip and we feel good about where we’re at. We still have a lot of things to accomplish this season.” – SC coach Reed Secrist.
Games: Carbon (13-7) vs. Juan Diego (12-8), 10 a.m.
Dixie (15-8) vs. Stansbury (17-5), 1 p.m.
Note: Winners play at 4 p.m., losers play at 4 p.m. at Grantsville
Favorite: We’re not so ethnocentric that we’re going to say Dixie here, but the Flyers certainly have the tools to go 2-0 if they can recapture a little of that preseason mojo from when they beat Spanish Fork. But the Stallions have won nine of 10 and are 17-5. It was a weak year in Region 11, however.
Region 9 angle: Dixie was the opposite of Desert Hills in that the Flyers were great at times, but miserable at others. Case in point: Dixie stunk it up at home vs. Snow Canyon, then nearly (and should’ve) beaten the Warriors at their place.
Likely starting pitchers: Carbon’s Jarod Lessar (5-2) and Dakota Cisneros (4-3); Juan Diego’s Dylan Delgado (3-3) and Ryan Green (3-3); Dixie’s Trevor Cox (3-4) and Braxton Ipson (4-2); Stansbury’s Brek Bentley (5-1) and Trenton Griffin (5-1).
Power hitters (extra-base hits): Carbon’s Derek Young (7); Juan Diego’s Easton Withers (11); Dixie’s Braxton Ipson (8); Stansbury’s Wyatt Branch (14).
Quotable coach: “Last year Stansbury saved their ace and dropped the first game, so I’m sure we’ll see their ace, Bentley. Our 2-3-4-5 guys are really key. We hope to get to Bentley with them.”
Park City Pod
Games: Juab (7-11) vs. Park City (16-7), 10 a.m.
Canyon View (12-8) vs. Bear River (12-10), 1:15 p.m.
Note: Winners play at 4:30 p.m., losers play at 4:30 p.m. at City Complex in Heber City
Favorite: Park City is a real wildcard in this state tournament. Has the snow even melted up there yet? You won’t find a marquee win on their schedule and they got 10-runned by Snow Canyon and Wasatch. Canyon View may actually be the 2-0 team out of this group.
Region 9 angle: The Falcons are good enough to beat anybody (Snow Canyon) and bad enough to lose to anyone as well (Hurricane). Still, this might be a good draw for them. Bear River is tough, too, so does CV save Brinkerhoff or use him in game one?
Likely starting pitchers: Juab’s Kaden Kelson (2-4) and Tanner Nelson (3-3); Park City’s mark Trevino (8-1) and Chandler Anderson (4-0); Canyon View’s Zack Brinkerhoff (5-3) and Jesse Johnson (2-1); Bear River’s Hayden Woodward (6-1) and JarDee Nessen (2-3).
Power hitters (extra-base hits): Juab’s Trevor Fowkes (7); Park City’s Chandler Anderson (13); Canyon View’s Keaton Kringlen (18); Bear River’s Hunter Elbrador (6).
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