ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State baseball team swept Fresno Pacific University Friday in a doubleheader. In the first game, John Conquy pitched masterfully, holding the Sunbirds to one run on 3 hits, striking out four, in an 11-1 romp. In the nightcap, FPU kept the game closer, but still fell 8-4.
“I have to admit, it is a nice feeling to cool off these hot teams,” said Dixie State designated hitter Kevin Kline. Dixie had previously won season series against an undefeated Cal Baptist and a hot Hawaii Pacific.
The Red Storm has been on a roll themselves. After starting the year 0-7, DSU has won 35 of its last 42.
“We have not lost a series since the first two,” said Storm head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “We knew that (Fresno) was playing well. Many thought that we had already qualified for post-season, but I did not want to leave anything to chance.”
In the first game, Dixie State drew first blood with a three-run shot from Kline to left field. Trey Kamachi got the next two RBIs with two singles. The first scored Dalton Gust in the next inning. The second single was up the middle, scoring Drew McLaughlin in the fourth.
The Sunbirds had their only run when Joshua Banuelos doubled in Baron Bower in the sixth inning. The Red Storm answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by doubles from Kline and Tyler Blair.
Austin Bartleson finished the scoring with a two-run shot to left center in the seventh inning.
Conquy is now 8-1 on the season. Drew Merlo took the loss for the Sunbirds and fell to 6-3.
In the nightcap, Dixie State again jumped out early when Kline hit a two-run double in the first inning. Kline later scored in the inning on a Blair sacrifice. Kline would finish the day 5 of 6, including two doubles and a home run and six RBIs.
“Kevin’s performance is not a surprise,” said Pfatenhauer. “Our whole murderer’s row, batters 3-6, are excellent hitters.”
Fresno’s offense improved in the second game. But every time the Sunbirds scored, Dixie State would match them in the bottom of the inning. The Sunbirds scored two in the top of the third. Dixie third baseman Yuto Kata batted in Kline on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the inning. Blair would then score on a double steal. At the end of three, the Dixie lead was still three runs, 5-2.
Fresno added another run in the fifth. Ty Johnson batted in Kata on a fielding error in the bottom of the inning.
The Sunbirds John Koretoff had a solo home run in the sixth inning, making it 6-4. But Blair matched it with a two-run shot to right center to cap the scoring for the night.
Kort Christoffersen pitched the win, going four innings and allowing three runs. He moved to 3-2. Wilson Ashford fell to 6-2 with the loss.
The Red Storm are now 35-14 overall, 26-5 in conference play. The Sunbirds fell out of a tie for second place with Cal Baptist and Azusa Pacific. They are now alone in fourth at 18-13 with an overall record of 30-19.
The teams will meet in the final game of the regular season Saturday at 11 a.m.
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