Region 9 baseball: Oaks’ 3-run homer lifts Dixie to comeback win at Cedar

Dixie first baseman Ajay Leavitt applies tag to Bridger Bunnell of Cedar during a pickoff attempt, Dixie at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, April 23, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Dixie outfielder Blake Oaks broke open a close game with a three-run homer in the top of the sixth Tuesday afternoon at Cedar, giving the Flyers the cushion they needed to defeat the Redmen, 9-6.

Dixie pitcher Cooper Vest, Dixie at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, April 23, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Oaks’ blast to center field came with the score tied 6-6 and two out. The two batters preceding Oaks – Brenden Blanchard and Cooper Vest – had respectively reached base by getting hit by a pitch and by an infield error. Oaks then drilled the first pitch he saw over the fence for what proved to be the game-winning hit.

Cedar had started strong, scoring four runs during a second-inning rally that included a dramatic inside-the-park homer by Kolby White that also brought in teammate Bridger Bunnell. White’s hit, which went deep into the right field corner, was initially scored as a triple; however, he did legitimately stretch it into a four-bagger, even if the incoming relay throw wasn’t completely clean.

Later in the second inning, McKrae Spencer singled in two more runs to give Cedar an early 4-0 lead after two innings. Although rattled a bit, Dixie lefthander Cooper Vest remained on the mound and ultimately lasted the first five innings.

Dixie finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth, as Hunter Knighton brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, after which the following batter, Ajay Leavitt, singled in another run to make the score 4-2.

Dixie then pulled ahead in the top of the fifth with a four-run rally that included a double by Kayler Yates and a two-run homer by Vest.

Cedar trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but Bunnell then hit a two-run home run to tie the game 6-6.

Vest, who was relieved by Leavitt at the beginning of the sixth inning, was credited with the pitching victory. Vest gave up six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out 11. Meanwhile, Cedar’s Spencer, who took over for starter Tanner Eyre in the sixth and pitched the final two innings, took the loss.

Kolby White of Cedar successfully makes it home for an inside-the-park home run before Dixie catcher Chandler Welch picks up the ball, Dixie at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, April 23, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Our kids did a really good job at the plate, for the most part,” said Cedar head coach Eric Fieldstead. “A few more strikeouts than I would like, but overall, we competed, and that is all I can ask of them. Dixie is a good team, and we made a few too many mistakes to beat a good team like that.”

Region-leading Dixie improved to 8-1 in region play with the win, while Cedar dropped to 5-6. Despite the loss, Redmen still have a good chance of making the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, although either Pine View or Hurricane, which are currently tied for fifth place with 3-6 records, could still move up into the fourth-place spot. See listing below for updated standings.

In other Region 9 action Tuesday:

Desert Hills 13, Pine View 0

At Pine View, the Desert Hills Thunder belted 13 hits as they cruised to a shutout win over the Panthers. The Thunder’s biggest inning was the top of the seventh, when they piled on eight more runs. Desert Hills starter Blake Milne picked up the win on the mound, while Lance Kinross pitched two innings of strong relief. Each pitcher gave up only one hit.

Snow Canyon 12, Hurricane 2

At Snow Canyon, the Warriors jumped out to an early lead and rolled to a 12-2 win over the Hurricane Tigers. Tim Shakespeare went 3-for-3 at the plate and had two RBIs for Snow Canyon, which finished with a total of 16 hits. Snow Canyon’s James Beck lasted all six innings on the mound, giving up four hits while walking six and striking out three. Hurricane starter Max Raddatz took the loss for the Tigers.

This Friday’s games will be rematches of Tuesday’s contests but played on the opposite fields. Cedar plays at Dixie at 7 p.m. Friday, while Snow Canyon plays at Hurricane at 7 p.m. and Pine View plays at Desert Hills at 7:30 p.m.

Region 9 baseball standings (as of April 23)

Dixie 8-1 (16-3)
Desert Hills 7-2 (19-3)
Snow Canyon 6-3 (16-6)
Cedar 5-6 (11-10)
Pine View 3-6 (8-10)
Hurricane 3-6 (9-11)
Canyon View 1-9 (5-14)

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