ST. GEORGE — Cooper Vest shut down Juan Diego’s vaunted offense and the Dixie Flyers bats did the rest Friday in a 10-0 whitewashing of the Soaring Eagle in the 4A state semifinals at Bruce Hurst Field.
The left-handed Vest, who hit the game-winning home run in the 3A state championship last season, pitched a one-hit shutout and continually baffled the Juan Diego sluggers, who came into the game batting .331 as a team. He said the semifinal start was no big deal.
“I’ve been here before — it’s just another ball game to me,” said Vest, who allowed just a fourth-inning Rex Jones single in the complete game. “My teammates made it easy by getting the lead early and playing great defense. They’re really swinging the bats well.”
Vest downplayed his performance, but it was clear early in the game that the pickings would be slim for the Soaring Eagle.
“He just has that bulldog personality and he really goes after batters,” Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. “We had no reservations at all going with him on this big occasion.”
Vest retired the first four batters he faced before giving up a walk in the second inning. He then retired six more in a row before losing the no-hitter to Jones in the fourth.
The Soaring Eagle actually loaded the bases in the fifth after a Dixie error and two Vest walks. But the sophomore induced a foul pop out to end the threat, and then retired the side without incident in the sixth to end the game.
The Dixie offense, meanwhile, was in full force. Ahead 1-0 in the third, Flyer Tyson Fisher doubled to the right-field gap to score two runs and make it 3-0. Chase Lundin followed with a two-run homer way over the left field fence to make it 5-0.
“I’m so happy for my teammates and my team when guys like Chase (Lundin) and Hobbs (Nyberg) hit home runs,” Fisher said. “We kind of over-swung the first time through the lineup, but after that we got the timing down and everybody was just putting the barrel of the bat on the ball.”
Nyberg led off the fourth inning with a solo homer to right field that made it 6-0 and the senior second baseman pushed the lead to 9-0 in the fifth with a bases-loaded double off the fence that scored three.
“Hobbs and Cooper have that same kind of personality, they just compete,” Ipson said. “He’s the kind of kid that just goes up there and battles every time.”
The 10th run of the game came home in the top of the sixth when Fisher walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Vest then mowed Juan Diego down in the bottom half of the sixth to end the game via the mercy rule.
Dixie, 26-3, had eight hits and drew seven walks in the game. Nyberg finished with two hits, a walk and four RBIs. Nyberg’s homer was his fifth of the season, while Lundin’s long ball was his seventh.
The Flyers play in the 4A championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. and will battle region rival Desert Hills. The Thunder eliminated Juan Diego 14-4 later Friday evening to qualify for the title game.
If Dixie wins that 11 a.m. game, they will have earned their second straight baseball state championship. If Desert Hills takes the 11 a.m. game, the two teams would meet again in an “if necessary” game immediately following the first game with the winner of that game being crowned 4A champion.
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)
Desert Hills 9, Spanish Fork 8 (Spanish Fork eliminated)
Snow Canyon 7, Pine View 5 (Pine View eliminated)
Desert Hills 18, Snow Canyon 2 (Snow Canyon eliminated)
Friday’s schedule of games
4:30 p.m. – 4A semifinal – Dixie 10, Juan Diego 0
7 p.m. – Desert Hills 14, Juan Diego 4 (Juan Diego eliminated)
Saturday’s schedule of games
11 a.m. – 4A championship, Dixie (26-3) vs. Desert Hills (21-7) at Hurst Field
1 p.m. – 4A championship 2 (if necessary game) at Hurst Field
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