ST. GEORGE – After winning two games by wide margins Monday, the Dixie State baseball team had to win Tuesday with the short game. It worked as the Red Storm came away with another sweep, 4-3 and 4-0 over Hawaii-Hilo.
“Hawaii-Hilo threw their best pitcher at us today in Game 2,” said Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “And the guy who pitched in Game 1 pitched very well. We had to get our runs wherever we could get them.”
Dixie State 4, Hawaii-Hilo 3 (10 innings)
Neither team got on the scoreboard in the first four innings. The Storm put up a run each in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Tanner Morache began the inning with a double down the left field line. He then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a wild pitch. In the sixth inning, Cam Gust hit a solo home run to right field.
The Vulcans came alive in the seventh, putting up three runs and taking a 3-2 lead.
“That inning woke us up,” said Pfatenhauer. “The mood in the dugout was lackadaisical. All of a sudden, we are down. That got our guys more focused.”
Dixie State tied the game on a two-out single by Reece Lucero that scored Jerome Hill II from second base. Both teams stranded a base runner in the ninth.
In the extra stanza, relief pitcher Spencer Greer retired the three batters he faced. The Storm got Hill on base with a single up the middle to begin the bottom of the 10th. Gust bunt-sacrificed Hill to second. Hill then scored on a single by Miles Bice up the middle to end the game.
Greer earned the win to go to 2-2 on the year. Hill, Bice and Sam Hall all recorded multiple hits.
Dixie State 4, Hawaii-Hilo 0
The Storm faced Jordan Kurokawa, the Vulcan’s ace. Kurokawa had been leading the conference with a 0.92 ERA before UH-H’s series against Fresno Pacific last week.
“We have faced him every year,” said Pfatenhauer. “He throws in the 90s. He is tough to hit. Our guys did well against him today.”
On the flip side, the Storm got a great performance from pitcher Chance Abrath, who pitched a complete game, scattering five hits over seven innings. Not only did Abrath record the shutout, but no runner was able to advance to second base until there were two outs in the final inning. And that runner stole second uncontested with no throw from the catcher and no coverage from the shortstop. To no avail, however, as Abrath got the last batter to fly out to center field to end the game.
The Storm got a run up early. In the first inning, DSU loaded the bases on a fielding error, a Sam Hall single and a walk. Hill came to bat with two outs and got his RBI the hard way when he was hit by pitch.
In the third inning, the Storm again loaded the bases. Hall and Hill both hit safely. Jake Davison then walked. Bryce Feist hit a single to short. Hall scored and then Hill followed him on the shortstop’s throwing error.
The Storm added an insurance run in the sixth. Feist started the inning with a single to right. Trey Reineke pinched ran for Feist. Morache bunt-sacrificed Reineke to second. Then Reineke scored on a Drew McLaughlin grounder up the middle.
Morache, who had an 18-game hit streak going into the nightcap, was held without a hit in game two. Asked if he considered the streak before giving Morache the signal to sacrifice in his last at-bat, Pfatenhauer said, “I was not aware of the streak. But Tanner is not the kind of player who would care about that. He would do what is best for the team. And in that circumstance, the bunt-sacrifice is what the team needed.”
Hall extended his hitting streak to 15 games, while Abrath improved to 2-2.
“We got to see the Chance Abrath that we saw a couple of years ago,” said Pfatenhauer. “He was injured last year and has struggled to get back to where he was. We were planning on just pitching him for 60 pitches. But he was pitching well and let him finish the game.”
Abrath only used 74 pitches against 27 batters. He did not walk any batters.
Dixie State improved to 12-4 in conference play and currently sits in second place in the PacWest, one game back of Cal Baptist. The Storm improved to 14-6 overall and will continue their home stand with a four-game series against Fresno Pacific. The first game is scheduled for Thursday night at 6 p.m. UH-H falls to 4-21 overall and 3-19 in the PacWest.
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