Offensive barrage powers Desert Hills past Dixie to capture 4A state baseball title

Desert Hills players celebrate with trophy after winning the 4A state baseball championship with a 16-3 victory over Dixie, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills High School won the school’s first baseball title Tuesday, with the Thunder rolling to a 16-3 victory over Dixie in five innings.

Desert Hills vs. Dixie, 4A state baseball championship, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

It was the second straight year the Region 9 rivals had met in the 4A championship game, with Dixie winning 1-0 last year.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be another 1-0 game (this year),” Desert Hills head coach Chris Allred told reporters after the game as the players and fans celebrated on the infield at Dixie State University’s Bruce Hurst Field.

The Flyers had gotten off to a promising start against Desert Hills, putting two runs on the board in the top of the first inning behind three singles and a double.

“Dixie came out and got those first couple of runs in the first inning, but we weren’t nervous,” Allred said, noting that his team immediately responded by scoring five runs on six hits in the bottom of the first to take the lead for good.

“We take pride in our region being a region that, if you come out of it, you’re going to be battle-tested,” Allred added “We feel like we were battle-tested and ready for the state tournament. I feel like that’s a big part of why we are here today.”

The Thunder’s Landon Levine hits a solo home run, Desert Hills vs. Dixie, 4A state baseball championship, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

The Thunder scored in every inning against Dixie, their highest-scoring frame being the six-run third that put them ahead 12-2.

Desert Hills racked up 16 hits, with seven players getting a hit and six players getting at least two. Drew Thorpe went 3-for-3 with five RBIs, and teammates Bronson Andrus and Chandler Reber also had three hits apiece. Landon Levine went 2-for 3 and hit a solo home run.

“Everyone did their part offensively,” said Lance Kinross, who wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday but who had pitched four strong innings of relief in Monday’s semifinal win over Salem Hills.

Senior Dallen Turner pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for Desert Hills before being relieved with one out in the fifth by fellow senior Blake Milne, who then got Dixie’s Reggie Graff to hit into a double play to end the game. Of Dixie’s six hits, only two came during the final four innings.

Coach Allred said he and his team were excited to play Dixie in the championship game in front of a sizable hometown crowd.

Desert Hills players, along with coach Chris Allred and his wife Becky Allred (holding trophy) celebrate after winning the 4A state baseball championship with a 16-3 victory over Dixie, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

“It’s a great atmosphere, great environment. It makes it really special for the kids when you’ve got the community to come out,” he said. “Hats off to both programs. When they moved the tournament back to Monday and Tuesday and they were able to reset the pitching, I thought Dixie had a leg up there and would have a good opportunity to get here today, and they did.”

Working their way through the one-loss bracket after losing to Salem Hills in the second round on May 11, Dixie had successively knocked five teams out of the tournament, but the Flyers had no answer for Desert Hills’ offensive onslaught on Tuesday.

Brenden Blanchard, the first of four Dixie pitchers to work the mound, took the loss.

After the final out was recorded and the Desert Hills players gathered to celebrate on the field, their first order of business after receiving the championship trophy was to summon Becky Allred, their head coach’s wife, down to the field to hand her the trophy and pose with her holding it. Becky Allred is battling breast cancer, and the team has been rallying to support her, including wearing pink wristbands and having pink logo embroidered on their hats.

Desert Hills players douse head coach Chris Allred with a cooler full of ice water after winning the 4A state baseball championship with a 16-3 victory over Dixie, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

“They battle,” coach Allred said. “They battle for each other. They battle for my wife. It’s just a remarkable group of young men, and they’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point. I’m just really proud of them and what they’ve accomplished.”

Allred also had high praise for his senior players, mentioning several of them by name, including Andrus, Thorpe and Milne.

Allred said he was glad they were able to bring in Milne in from left field to pitch at the end of the last inning.

“Blake’s a heck of a pitcher and we didn’t even get a chance to really showcase him until the very end there. But he’s a great young man,” the coach said.

“It’s been a rough year, fighting to win games, fighting to beat cancer,” Allred said. “This team has been a great support to us and to each other.”

Allred said the Thunder, which finished the year with a 27-3 record, have worked throughout the season to consistently improve as a team.

“They just continued to work to get better and put themselves in a great situation today to be able to finish it off with the state championship.”

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!