ST. GEORGE — Quite often, a highly-anticipated event fails to live up to the hype. Dakota Donovan and Brayson Hurdsman made sure that was not the case Tuesday night as Region 9’s top pitchers dueled to a stalemate at Thunder Field. Pine View finally broke the tie off a relief pitcher and a defensive gaffe to snag first place for the moment. Meanwhile, Dixie clinched a playoff spot with a close win over Snow Canyon and Cedar pulled even with the Warriors and Hurricane with a clutch road win against the Tigers.
Here’s a report on Tuesday night’s contests:
Pine View 3, Desert Hills 1 (F/10)
The two stud hurlers were as good as advertised, holding a couple of pretty good offenses down for most of the night.
It was, by all accounts, a classic pitcher’s duel.
“The most crucial thing for Donovan tonight was that he was very efficient,” Panthers coach Troy Wall said. “He kept his pitch count low so that he was able to stay in the game longer and that was really the key.”
Indeed, Donovan pitched two more innings than Hurdsman, but only threw eight more pitches. Donovan had 119 pitches to Hurdsman’s 111.
In the end, though, both teams had to turn to their bullpens. Trey Winget held Pine View scoreless in the eighth and ninth before some wildness and a Thunder error finally broke the tie.
With two outs in the top of the 10th inning, Winget issued consecutive walks to Brooks Barney and Tyler Johnston. On a 2-2 count to the next batter, Jackson Bithell, Barney and Johnston attempted a double steal. Thunder catcher Preston Creager threw a perfect strike to second base to try and get Johnston. The problem was, neither the shortstop nor the second baseman covered the bag and the ball bounded into center field, allowing Barney to sprint home with the go-ahead run.
Bithell then drew a 3-2 walk and Erik Sanchez followed with an RBI single to give the Panthers a two-run cushion at 3-1.
Connor Clark then relieved Donovan for the bottom of the 10th. Desert Hills got runners on second and third with two outs, but Clark got a strikeout to end the marathon game and put the Panthers in first place.
“I tried not to over-hype this game and get too worked up, but I’ve been super excited for it,” Donovan said. “I tried to do everything possible to prepare for this match-up (with Hurdsman).”
Pine View led for about 20 minutes early in the game when Logan Lafemina beat out a double play attempt to knock home Bithell in the top of the third inning. The Thunder evened it up in the bottom of the fourth when a Donovan change-up turned into a Trey Winget home run.
“Dakota’s been working on an off-speed pitch, a change-up,” Wall said. “It worked really good except for that one time and to the wrong kid and (Winget) didn’t miss it.”
Winget’s solo shot, which went to straight-away center field and cleared the 350-foot sign on the 15-foot high fence, would be the only hit Desert Hills would get off of Donovan until the bottom of the ninth. In that inning, the Thunder were able to rap out a single by Hurdsman, but couldn’t get him past second base. Johnston made a spectacular play at short earlier in the inning by diving on a ground ball up the middle and throwing out the runner.
Sanchez, who had two hits to go with his RBI, has seen limited playing time this season. But the youngster proved to be a tough out all game long, forcing DH pitchers to use 25 pitches in his four official at-bats (he also had a sacrifice bunt).
“I just like to see the ball and hit it,” Sanchez said. “I try not to think too much when I’m up there. Nothing negative. Just all positive thoughts.”
Pine View, 15-6 overall and 7-2 in region, finished with seven hits and played error-free on defense. Donovan had two of those hits in four at-bats, but Pine View did struggle with getting big hits in scoring situations. The Panthers stranded 13 runners on the base paths.
Desert Hills, 12-11 and 6-3, committed four errors in the game. The Thunder had four hits. Winget only allowed two hits in three innings of work, but his wildness cost him as he issued six walks.
The two teams will square off once again Friday night, this time at Panther Field. Start time is 7 p.m. and the game can be heard on SportsRadio 97.7 FM. A Pine View win would give them the region title and a home playoff “pod” next week. A Desert Hills win would likely result in a coin toss to determine the No. 1 seed. The region’s No. 2 seed will travel to the Canyon View pod next week.
Dixie 3, Snow Canyon 2
It wasn’t as high-profile as Donovan-Hurdsman, but Tyson Fisher and Nick Dolce put on their own pitching duel Tuesday over at Flyer Field.
Fisher got the better of Dolce, allowing just two hits and two runs as Dixie was able to build a 3-0 lead and then hold on from there.
The sophomore Fisher has been on a tear lately, following up last week’s one-hit shutout with this gem. He only gave up one earned run and if not for a bout of wildness (five walks), he may have pitched another whitewash.
Dixie jumped out on top with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Chance Vowell reached on an error and Trevor Connell walked to set the table for Wyatt Woodland, who brought both teammates home with a double to right field.
Dixie made it 3-0 in the third thanks to a couple of Snow Canyon errors. Payden Harrah reached on a fielding error and then came all the way around to score on a throwing error by the Warriors on a ground ball by Vowell.
Snow Canyon, meanwhile was hitless until Matt Kitchen led off the fifth inning with a double down the left field line. Kaleb Gates reached on catcher’s interference and the Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out when Jed Jensen drew a walk. After a strikeout, Nick Dolce picked up an RBI by walking on a 3-2 pitch to force home Kitchen.
Austin Deming followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Gates and cut the Dixie lead to 3-2. But Fisher induced a groundout to end the half-inning with the lead still intact.
Snow Canyon got a runner on in the sixth on a Dixie error and Dolce singled with two outs in the seventh, but neither runner made it past first base and the Flyers were able to secure their fifth region win.
Duncan Staheli was the hit leader for Dixie with a single and a double. Woodland had two RBIs as Dixie had seven hits in the game.
Dixie, 13-6 overall and 5-4 in region, clinches a playoff spot with this win and is locked in as the No. 3 seed from Region 9. That means a trip to either Stansbury or Park City next week (the Stallions lead Region 10 by a half-game over the Miners).
Dolce reached base in all four plate appearances, plus allowed just one earned run on the mound for the Warriors, who fall into a three-way tie for fourth place in the region. SC, 8-14 overall and 3-6 in region, must win at home Thursday night (SportsRadio 97.7 FM) to force a play-in game with the winner of Friday afternoon’s Cedar-Hurricane game.
Cedar 8, Hurricane 1
A Tigers error in the fourth inning opened the floodgates for a five-run rally for the Redmen that turned the tide in this one.
Cedar took advantage of the extra out in the fourth, with Rykker Tom socking a bases-clearing double and Drake Lewis following with a double of his own to break up what had been a scoreless pitcher’s battle between Hurricane’s Tobie Swenson and Cedar’s Kyler Carrizosa.
Hurricane got one back on an RBI single by Michael Lacy in the fifth, but the Redmen salted the game away in the sixth with three more runs to pull away with the win.
Carrizosa got the win, scattering five hits and allowing just one unearned run. He struck out 13 Hurricane batters and only walked one in the complete-game victory. Tom had a perfect day at the plate, collecting three singles and a double and he even had a walk. Lewis was on the bases four times, gathering two hits and two walks.
For Hurricane, Swenson allowed seven hits and five walks, but all five runs in his five innings of work were unearned. Lacy had a pair of hits to lead the Tigers.
The Cedar win puts both teams at 3-6 in region, tied with Snow Canyon for fourth place in a battle for the final playoff spot. The two teams meet in the regular-season finale Friday afternoon in Cedar City.
Region 9 Baseball Standings
Pine View 7-2, 15-6
Desert Hills 6-3, 12-11
Dixie 5-4, 13-6
Hurricane 3-6, 8-10
Cedar 3-6, 10-12
Snow Canyon 3-6, 8-14
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