ST. GEORGE – Last year, Snow Canyon survived through the elimination bracket by winning games 13-6, 17-2 and 20-3. This year, the Warriors are still alive, but the scores are much closer with SC beating Park City 6-2 and defeating Salem Hills 3-1.
“Geesh, another tough one,” Snow Canyon head coach Reed Secrist said after his team downed the Skyhawks. “At this point, it’s basically one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one play at a time. We just need to pick each other up. Our backs are really against the wall.”
The Warriors were stunned a week ago by Orem in the first round of the 4A playoffs in a 6-4 decision in the rain and cold of northern Utah. They bounced back with a 9-1 elimination victory over Mountain Crest, but ended up staring at a huge mountain between them and their desired goal of being state champs.
In need of seven straight victories this week to get that state championship, the Warriors threw their aces out at Park City and Salem Hills Wednesday. Both games required stellar pitching performances just to get the victories. The heck with saving pitchers and counting pitches – SC just needed to get wins.
“Yeah, I threw 104 pitches tonight,” said Jed Jensen, who pitched stellar in the win over Salem Hills. “They probably would have liked to save me some so I could go later this week, but it was too close a game. Mostly tonight I just tried to throw strikes and we have a great defense, so I just wanted to let them make plays.”
Jensen threw perhaps one bad pitch in the game, a fastball that turned into a towering home run hit by Salem Hills catcher Trey Shipley. At the time (the bottom of the second inning), it gave the Skyhawks a 1-0 lead and had the Warriors behind in an elimination game for the second time of the day.
But the Snow Canyon offense finally got it going in the top of the fourth. Austin Deming led off with a single, then came all the way around to score when Zack Nowatzke volleyballed a triple off the right field fence. The next batter, Stephen Gubler, hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score the speedy Nowatzke and make it 2-1.
Jensen got in a jam in the bottom of the fifth, though it was not his fault. Salem Hills got runners on second and third with two outs after a pair of Warrior errors. But Jensen induced an easy come-backer from Shipley for the third out and the lead was preserved.
Deming, one of the top hitters in the state of Utah, provided an insurance run in the top of the sixth by doubling over the head of the Salem Hills center fielder to bring home Cade Guerisoli.
“He’s always been a great hitter, ever since we were little kids,” Jensen said of Deming. “He’s always been the spark for our offense. If he’s playing well, we’re hard to beat.”
In the early game against Park City, Secrist handed the ball to ace Breck Eichelberger. The senior right-hander wasn’t unhittable, but he was a bulldog on the mound. He surrendered a run in the first inning and another in the third as the Miners had a 2-1 advantage.
The Warriors made their offensive move in the top of the sixth. With one out, Deming walked and Nowatzke ripped an RBI triple to left field, tying the game at 2-2. After Gubler walked, Nowatzke was able to jog home on a wild pitch to the distant backstop. The next batter, Jensen, then singled home Gubler to make it 4-2.
In the top of the seventh, Deming came through once again, smacking a two-run double to the gap in left field that scored Brock Secrist and Guerisoli and made it 6-2.
Eichelberger, who allowed seven hits, but no walks, then pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh to secure the win and eliminate Park City.
On the day, Deming finished with five hits in six at-bats, with three RBIs and two runs scored. Nowatzke had a triple in each game and Brock Secrist had three hits on the day.
The Warriors will likely throw Deming in an elimination game against rival Pine View Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Hurst Field. The Panthers dropped to the one-loss bracket with a 4-3 loss to Dixie on Wednesday. The winner of that game will play again at 7 p.m. against the winner of Desert Hills and Spanish Fork. The losers of both games are eliminated.
Dixie 4, Pine View 3
Lehi 4, Orem 3 (F/9) (Orem eliminated)
Spanish Fork 11, Sky View 0 (Sky View eliminated)
Juan Diego 5, Desert Hills 1
Salem Hills 6, Bear River 3 (Bear River eliminated)
Snow Canyon 6, Park City 2 (Park City eliminated)
Spanish Fork 10, Lehi 7 (Lehi eliminated)
Snow Canyon 3, Salem Hills 1 (Salem Hills eliminated)
Thursday’s schedule of games
1:30 p.m. – Spanish Fork (20-9) vs. Desert Hills (18-7) – elimination game, at Hurst Field
4:30 p.m. – Snow Canyon (25-4) vs. Pine View (16-8) – elimination game, at Hurst Field
7 p.m. – elimination game at Hurst Field
Friday’s schedule of games
4:30 p.m. – 4A semifinal – Dixie (25-3) vs. Juan Diego (22-5) at Hurst Field
7 p.m. – elimination game at Hurst Field
Saturday’s schedule of games
11 a.m. – 4A championship at Hurst Field
1 p.m. – 4A championship 2 (if necessary game) at Hurst Field
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