Piute wins third straight 1A baseball state title

Piute's Gavin Morgan pitches against Panguitch in the state 1A baseball championship game, St. George, Utah, Oct. 10, 2020 | Photo courtesy of TBird Shots, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — The Piute Thunderbirds won their third straight 1A baseball state championship Saturday afternoon.

Behind the stellar pitching of Gavin Morgan, the Thunderbirds shut out the Panguitch Bobcats, 10-0. The game was played at Snow Canyon High School in St. George.

Morgan, a junior, had also pitched the No. 2 seeded T-Birds to an 8-4 quarterfinal win over Diamond Ranch Academy the previous Tuesday, a game that Piute coach Travas Blood said was their toughest test of the playoffs.

Then, in the semifinal games played at Snow Canyon on Friday, Piute cruised past sixth-seeded Wayne, 12-0, while No. 5 seed Panguitch upset top-seeded Valley, 15-5. That put Panguitch and Piute against each other in Saturday’s championship – a rematch of last year’s title game, which Piute won 3-1.

Blood said he expected the title game against Panguitch to be another closely fought battle, just as their two regular season matchups had been. Piute won both of those meetings by two runs, by scores of 4-2 and 3-1. 

Blood said he was “a little nervous” about facing the Bobcats again after Panguitch beat Valley by 10 runs on Friday.

“Valley is a strong team,” he said. “I told my boys, ‘It’ll be a dogfight clear to the end. Prove me wrong.’”

Piute players celebrate 10-0 win over Panguitch in the state 1A baseball championship game, St. George, Utah, Oct. 10, 2020 | Photo courtesy of TBird Shots, St. George News / Cedar City News

Saturday’s contest ended up being a runaway win for the Thunderbirds, who built a five-run lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back as Morgan and the Piute defense kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard throughout the game. 

Blood said although it was Thunderbirds’ pitching and defense that carried them through their 20-4 season, they saw increased offensive output during the tournament.

“Our pitching was our strong point this year,” he said. “We were really deep in pitching, and we knew we could go quite a ways and be strong at the end of the year because of our pitching. And then our defense was probably our next best (aspect). Our fielders were phenomenal.”

Blood said that the team struggled with hitting for the whole season, until the playoffs, when “the kids decided they better pick it up a little bit.”

The coach said he is already looking forward to next year. Even though the team is losing a few seniors to graduation, he expects the T-Birds to contend for the title again next year.

“From two years ago, the team has just gotten better and better. And next year, I feel it’ll be a stronger team than it was this year.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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