ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State Trailblazers pulled off the upset over Brigham Young on Tuesday night, winning 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth.
With the bases loaded, Lane Pritchard rolled a ball up the middle. BYU shortstop Andrew Pintar made a nice diving stop with the infield in, but could not recover in time to stop Jack Walker from scoring. The knock gave Dixie State bragging rights in the first-ever matchup between the two schools on the diamond.
“I called them all to the dugout and said, ‘Hey, we haven’t had great at-bats tonight but let’s slow down, let’s make sure we see pitches, see the ball up and not let it speed up on us,” Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “We strung together four or five good at-bats in a row that put us in that position.”
Dixie struggled early to make contact and BYU jumped out in the second. Former Dixie High standout Cooper Vest scored the game’s first run in the second after walking to reach base. Vest scored on a Bryan Call sacrifice fly.
BYU starter Boston Mabeus allowed only one Trailblazer to reach base in his three-inning outing. Ben Petty-Hull drew a walk, but all nine other batters Mabeus faced were retired. Six struck out and four of them went down looking.
Once Mabeus was out of the game, the Trailblazers pounced on the Cougars. Dixie State recorded three singles with one out to get on the board. Kaden Hollow started the stretch with a liner into center, Jake Engel followed suit with a similar shot and Tyler Hollow brought in Kaden with a blooper down the left field line. Kaden Hollow slid around a tag at the plate from a throw by Cooper Vest, allowing the runners to advance.
Shane Taylor then shot a ball over Vest’s head to score the next two runners. Pritchard drove in Taylor in the next at-bat.
“We were just trying to get ahead,” Pritchard said of the rally. “Trying to get out and find a good pitch to hit. You don’t want to fall down 0-1, 0-2 to good pitchers. BYU’s got a good staff and we were fortunate enough to hit and do some damage.”
Jack Gonzales came on in relief in the third and allowed only one hit in his two innings of work. He struck out five in the process.
The 4-1 Dixie lead held until a three-run rally in the seventh by Brigham Young. A pair of leadoff walks came around on a home run by Cole Gambill, pulling a shot down the right field line.
The Cougars threatened for more with a walk before Vest doubled inside first base. The lead runner was almost sent home but retreated to third. Zach Hansen got a foul popup to escape the danger.
Neither team managed much in eighth. BYU threatened with runners at the corners and two outs but did not convert. Dixie State went down in order.
In the top of the ninth, BYU got a runner on with a single, but Dixie pitcher Brayden Bonner picked him off to end the inning and set up the heroics in the bottom half.
Tanner Harper was hit by a pitch to start the home side of the ninth and was pinch-run for by Walker. Tyler Hollow advanced him on a single up the middle, Petty-Hull pushed him to third on a fielder’s choice and Taylor was intentionally walked to bring up Pritchard.
Tyler Hollow and Pritchard each had two hits to lead Dixie State. Pritchard and Taylor each had two RBIs.
The win moves the Trailblazers to 2-10. They have won two in a row after starting the season with 10 consecutive losses.
“I always think every team needs a walk-off win,” Pfatenhauer said. “It brings the team together, good emotion … We’ve played better than our record. I know the scores don’t indicate that every time but we’ve certainly played better than 2-10. So it’s nice to be rewarded for that.”
Bruce Hurst Field hosts its first WAC contest on Friday as University of Texas Rio Grande Valley comes to St. George. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m.
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