OREM — On a day with more twists than a bag of licorice and more comebacks than an insult comic, it all came down to a single run. And after 31 games involving 16 playoff teams over seven days, Desert Hills once again came up just short.
After winning two games on Championship Saturday, eliminating Cedar and forcing an “if necessary” game along the way, the Thunder had to watch helplessly as Grantsville dogpiled on the infield, sprinted through the outfield sprinklers and posed with the championship trophy. The Cowboys endured for an 8-7 victory in the ultimate game, holding off an intense DH rally while beating the Thunder for the second time in three tries.
“We just felt like we maybe didn’t have some of the amazing arms that some of the other teams had here, but we knew if we kept doing what we do — chugging along, swinging the bat and playing solid defense — that we would give ourselves a chance to win,” Grantsville coach Loren Anderson said. “We played hard and endured some adversity and it’s led us to this.”
Despite giving up 15 hits and nearly blowing an 8-1 lead, Cowboys starter Wyatt Barrus pitched a complete game and got the narrow win. He retired Desert Hills with less than 10 pitches in the seventh.
“Wyatt is an incredibly smart baseball player, with great instincts,” Anderson said. “This game was all on him and he delivered.”
A grand slam by Clay Matthews helped the Cowboys to an 8-1 lead with all the runs coming in a huge fourth inning. Desert Hills used the bottom half of the inning to climb right back into the game. Four straight hits by Clay Wilcox, Clay Gardner, Blake Betts and Jordan Evans made it an 8-3 game. After an error and an out loaded the bases, Dylan File ripped a double down the right field line to plat three and make it 8-6.
Barrus wriggled out of the inning by inducing a couple of flyouts, but gave up a solo home run to Braiden Irvin in the sixth as the Thunder drew within 8-7. But stellar defense closed things out, with Grantsville picking up a double play in the sixth and Dallin Williams flagging down a fly ball for the last out of the game.
DH, which ends the season 23-7, finishes second in state for the second straight year.
The Thunder forced the if necessary game with a bizarre 13-8 win in the first championship game.
Desert Hills dominated the early part of that game, scoring five in the second inning and three more in the fourth. File had a 2-run single to assist in the lead and it looked like the Thunder may mercy-rule Grantsville.
But, as they had all tournament, the Cowboys rallied, this time scoring eight straight runs in the bottom of the fifth. Nick Arbon had the big blow with a 3-run triple.
Unfazed, Desert Hills grabbed control of the game once again in the bottom of the fifth, with Wyatt Bendall singling home Evan Moss with the go-ahead run, making it 9-8. The next batter, Baden Powell, hit his first home run of the season over the left field fence, a 3-run rocket, to make it a 12-8 Thunder lead. Evans added a run in the seventh as DH forced a second championship game.
The Thunder made it to the championship by rallying past Cedar in the day’s early game.
The Redmen held a 3-1 lead midway through the fourth. But Gardner changed that in a big hurry with a 3-run homer to put the Thunder ahead 4-3. After the dinger, Irvin walked and eventually came around to score on a single by Evan Moss.
Videos filmed and produced by Dallas Griffin
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.