ST. GEORGE – Dixie keeps winning, using the long ball to capture its seventh straight victory, leaving the Flyers just one win away from capturing the Region 9 crown outright and the No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, Desert Hills and Snow Canyon are doing their best to stay with the Flyers, with each capturing a victory Tuesday night at home.
Dixie, at 7-2 in region, will host Cedar Friday night at Flyer Field with an opportunity to claim the league title. Desert Hills (6-3) still has a shot at the title, needing a win at Hurricane Friday and a Dixie loss. The Thunder are the last team to beat Dixie, sweeping the Flyers in the region season’s opening series. That gives Desert Hills the tiebreaker over Dixie.
The Warriors (6-3), who play at Pine View Friday, were swept in a pair of one-run games by the Flyers earlier this season, but split two games with the Thunder. It will all come down to the last game of region play Friday night.
Here’s a look at what happened Tuesday:
Dixie 12, Cedar 6
At this point, there’s no doubt Dixie has the best hitting team in Region 9. The Flyers sport a .356 team batting average and average more than nine runs a game. Meanwhile, with injuries and other issues, Cedar’s pitching staff has been the worst in Region 9.
So it’s no surprise the Flyers racked up a few runs Tuesday evening. In fact, it could have been worse.
Dixie accumulated 18 hits, eight of those for extra bases and five of those round-trippers. The Flyers left 10 men on base in the road game, but also had 12 runs batted in, including four by Hobbs Nyberg and three by Kaleb Leavitt.
“We have some guys in our lineup who are swinging the bat really well,” said Dixie coach Danny Ipson. “They’re going up there, looking for fastballs early in the count and driving the ball.”
Nyberg had the kind of game that most players can only dream about. The junior, who plays most of the time at second base (he also pitches and plays shortstop), hit two home runs, socked two doubles and knocked home four teammates. Nyberg leads Region 9 in hitting average (.520 after Tuesday’s 4 for 5 game) and runs scored (36) and is in the top 10 in almost every offensive category.
“He’s our leadoff guy and does just a great job of getting on base,” Ipson said. “He’s just got great athletic skills, but the big thing with him is that as a player, he’s one of the more competitive kids there is. No matter what it is we’re doing, he wants to win. His motor is always on and that’s what makes him special.”
Nyberg wasn’t the only hitting star, with No. 9 hitter Leavitt socking two home runs and picking up three RBIs. Wyatt Woodland had four hits, including a homer, while Dayton Dempsey also produced four hits and stole a base.
“We have talked all along about the possibility of clinching on Friday,” Ipson said. “But I wasn’t very pleased with the energy in the ballpark tonight. We’ve got a lot to improve on and work on. We have to have a better mindset. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
Nyberg opened the game with a solo homer to left field and Payden Harrah knocked home Dempsey later in the first inning to make it 2-0. Cedar cut it to 2-1 in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Drake Lewis.
Leavitt hit his first homer in the top of the second to make it 3-1, but Cedar again matched the run in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single from Brandon Johnson.
Harrah led off the third and doubled to the gap, setting up Woodland’s two-run bomb over the center field fence that made it 5-2. Leavitt hit his second homer in the third to make it 6-2.
Cedar pulled to within 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth after Ethan Boettcher singled home Chase Houston and Johnson picked up another RBI on a sacrifice fly.
But Dixie started to pull away in the fifth. Chase Lundin made it 7-4 on a sac fly and then Nyberg had his biggest hit of the day, a three-run homer to right field, that made it 10-4. Dixie added two more in the sixth on RBIs by Leavitt and Dempsey, while Cedar brought home a couple of runs in the seventh on a pair of Dixie errors.
Nyberg also picked up the victory, pitching four innings and allowing nine hits and four runs. Sophomore Ajay Leavitt pitched three innings of relief, allowing four hits and no earned runs.
Ben Hulet led Cedar with three hits and an RBI. Boettcher, Lewis, Travis Tait and Chase Houston all had two hits each as Cedar finished with 12 base knocks in the game. Both of Tait’s hits were doubles.
Dixie, 18-3 overall and 7-2 in region, controls its own fate. A win at home Friday gives the Flyers the league crown and a hosting of the first-round playoff pod on May 13. Should Dixie lose Friday, the Flyers hold the tiebreaker over Snow Canyon, but lose any tiebreaker with Desert Hills.
Cedar, 6-12 and 1-8, will try and play spoiler Friday night at Flyer Field.
Snow Canyon 11, Pine View 1
Ever have one of those days? For Snow Canyon, it was the sweet kind, like getting a third Pop-tart in the package, then going outside and finding a 20-dollar bill in the street. For Pine View, Tuesday’s first inning was the opposite, a lot more like a bad-hair day and a flat tire in the pouring rain.
The Warriors sent 15 men to the plate in the bottom of the first, knocking out seven hits and receiving two walks, a hit batsman, two Panther errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball. Eleven runs later, this game was essentially over – in the first inning.
“That’s the way baseball is sometimes,” Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist said. “I’m just glad it went in our favor.”
The whole hot mess started with Jamison Day getting hit by a pitch. Davis Rigby and Austin Deming singled to the outfield, but with no outs, the Warriors were playing it station-to-station and there was still no score.
The next batter, Cannon Secrist, hit a sharp grounder to short that looked like it could be a double play ball. Instead, it turned into a Pine View error that scored Day and opened up what would turn into a Pandora’s Box over the next 15 minutes.
Rigby scored on a passed ball, then Deming came home on a wild pitch. Stephen Gubler picked up the first RBI of the inning with a single, and a walk and an error made it 6-0. With one out, Rigby singled home a run with his second at-bat of the inning, then Deming doubled home two more to make it 9-0. One out later, Baker ripped his fourth double of the year to make it 11-0.
Pine View finally stopped the bleeding after that and Cody Riddle did an excellent job in relief, holding the Warriors scoreless the rest of the game. But the damage was done and the Panthers would not recover.
“It all started piling on,” Coach Secrist said. “I mean, 11 runs in the first. But the hard thing for me was just sitting on the 11-run lead. We’ve got to continue to battle and fight, cause anything can happen, really.”
Pine View did get a run in the top of the fourth. Jagun Leavitt singled and stole second and then came home on a Warrior error.
But the only drama left was whether or not the game would end early via the 10-run mercy rule. The Panthers got two on with one out in the top of the fifth. The next batter, Ryke Erickson, hit a hard bouncer to short that Deming snagged and got the force at second. The relay throw to first was late, but Makai Maclellan, who had been at second when the ball was hit, tried to score on the play. SC first baseman Cannon Secrist gunned the ball home in time to cut down Maclellan and end the game.
Maclellan, who failed to slide and barreled into Warrior catcher Kaleb Gates, was ejected and will have to miss PV’s next game.
One sweet moment in the game came in the second inning as former baseball star Britton Shipp, who was severely injured in a UTV accident 2 1/2 years ago, got to take a turn at the plate in the second inning. Shipp drew a walk to cheers from both teams and their fans. The senior flipped his bat and joyfully ran to first base before being lifted for a pinch runner.
“It was great to see him out there, with his old stance, in the batter’s box battling,” said Britton’s father, Jesse Shipp.
Britton Shipp also got an at-bat last season, his junior year. But this time, he was ready and, quite frankly, disappointed he didn’t get a hit. He took a vigorous cut at the 2-0 pitch from Riddle.
“Oh man, how did I miss that one?” Britton said. “I’m glad I got on base, but I thought I had that one pitch. I thought I was going to rip it.”
Snow Canyon, 14-8 overall and 6-3 in region, stays within a game of first-place Dixie with the victory. But the Flyers beat SC twice (4-3 and 6-5) and hold the tiebreaker on the Warriors. The best SC can hope for is a No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs.
“I would so love to see Dixie again in the playoffs,” Rigby said. “We feel like we have some unfinished business with them, and I don’t think they want to play us again.”
Pine View, 11-10 and 5-4, will likely be the third or fourth seed, depending on what happens in Friday’s rematch. The Panthers ended up with three hits in the game, two by Maclellan, including a double. He also took the loss on the mound.
Breck Eichelberger was the winner, his region-leading sixth victory of the year. He allowed one unearned run, three hits and two walks in five innings of work.
The two teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Field to close out the regular season.
Desert Hills 6, Hurricane 4
Desert Hills, the only team to have won a series against first-place Dixie this season, jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind pitching ace Chad Nelson, who held Hurricane without a hit the first 3 1/3 innings. But the Tigers rallied to within 5-3 in the sixth before running out of outs.
Trey Winget, who has been on a hitting tear the last two weeks, walked and scored the first run for DH in the bottom of the first. Nelson added a sacrifice fly in the first to make it 2-0.
Winget then struck again in the second, shooting a hot liner into right field for a two-run double. The two-out missile scored Quinn Kiser and Trey Allred and made it 4-0.
Hurricane’s first hit brought home the Tigers first run. Tobie Swenson ripped a line drive to the gap in left-center to plate Noah Humphrey, breaking up the no hitter and the shutout in one fell swoop. Two batters later, Kolby Heaton’s sac fly brought Swenson home and made it 4-2.
Kiser hit the first pitch in the bottom of the fourth over the left field fence to make it 5-2. It was Kiser’s first home run of the season.
Swenson, who pitched five innings and allowed just five hits for Hurricane, wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fifth with a strikeout and a ground out.
The Tigers cut it to 5-3 on a bases loaded catcher’s interference call that scored Nick Horsley in the top of the sixth.
But Nelson singled home Seth Betts in the bottom of the sixth to push the lead back out to three runs at 6-3, giving the Tigers one last chance to make up the deficit.
In the seventh, Trey Winget picked up his fourth save of the year by striking out the side. However, it wasn’t a perfect inning for Winget, who gave up a two-out home run to Hurricane’s Alec Flemetakis. It was the first homer of the year for Flemetakis, who has seven doubles and four triples on the season.
Nelson picked up the win on the mound, going five innings and allowing just two hits. He did have four walks and hit three batters, but all three runs scored off of him were unearned. Nelson now has five wins on the year and dropped his earned run average under 3.00 with the nice outing.
Winget pitched two innings of relief, allowing one run and striking out four. That earned him his fourth save of the season, plus the senior had two RBIs at the plate in the game. He was caught stealing for just the eighth time in 35 attempts this season.
DH had seven hits in the game, two by Betts. The Thunder improve to 16-5 overall and 6-3 in region play.
Hurricane, 8-13 and 2-7, had just four hits in the game, and also drew four walks.
The two teams play Friday at Tiger Field with likely pitching starters Flemetakis for Hurricane and Drew Thorpe for Desert Hills.
REGION 9 BASEBALL STANDINGS
Dixie 7-2 (18-3)
Desert Hills 6-3 (16-5)
Snow Canyon 6-3 (14-8)
Pine View 5-4 (11-10)
Hurricane 2-7 (8-13)
Cedar 1-8 (6-12)
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