OREM — Clutch pitching and timely hitting helped the Desert Hills Thunder advance to the semifinals of the 3A State Baseball Tournament Thursday.
Desert Hills junior pitcher Baden Powell got the Thunder out of tough situations all game long while junior Blake Betts and senior Zac Ivie had opportune RBI singles to put the Thunder on top with a 2-0 win over Carbon High School in the state quarterfinals at Utah Valley University.
“He (Powell) was absolutely huge,” said Desert Hills head coach Jerry Beck. “He got in a little trouble, but was able to make enough pitches to get out of every jam.”
In the top of the fifth inning, DH held a 1-0 advantage when an error helped Carbon base runner Cole Fossat advance to third with just one out. Powell then struck out the next two CHS batters to strand the tying run at third. Again in the top of the sixth inning, Powell got out of a tough situation. The Dinos had the go-ahead run at the plate when a hot line drive was hit directly at him. Powell instinctively held up his glove and caught the ball, then doubled up the runner on first to complete the double-play and end the inning.
“It was total reaction,” said Powell. “I just saw it coming and I put my glove up and there it was. When you are in trouble as a pitcher you can’t think about what can go wrong, but you just need to pitch.”
Powell pitched a win with six shutout innings and recorded five strikeouts. In the top of the seventh, junior pitcher Dylan File closed out the game with two strikeouts to claim the save.
Thunder bats came through at the right moments to give DH the lead. The first four innings were scoreless before Ivie hit a hard line drive up the middle with two outs to bring home lead-off hitter Kaleb Caplin for the go-ahead run. Almost a mirror image of Ivie’s hit in the fourth, Betts hit a bullet past the pitcher in the bottom of the fifth to bring in teammate Carson Clement to make it 2-0.
“We knew that Carbon was hot, but we did what we had to do and we came through,” said Betts. “I knew I had to move in our guys and I got a pitch and drove it right at the pitcher.”
Beck said that the timely hits helped his team pull away with the momentum and the win.
“Zac (Ivie) has been big all year, just clutch,” Beck said. “And Blake (Betts) has been a hot bat lately. You can’t say enough about how big those two hits were.”
Desert Hills said their ability to play as a team was a big factor in their emerging victorious against the Dinos.
“Baden (Powell) always shows up to play,” said Ivie. “And as a hitter, I try to be there for him. He is always throwing strikes. It’s kind of a brotherhood.”
The Thunder continue their run at the state title tomorrow as they face cross-town rival Snow Canyon in the state semi-finals at 4:30 Friday at Utah Valley University.
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