ST. GEORGE — It was always going to come down to pitching when Snow Canyon went to Pine View looking for the sweep in a two-game series. The problem was, it wasn’t the pitching anybody expected.
There may not be a more marquee starting pitcdehing matchup in Region 9 baseball this season. Traton Staheli brought his region-best fastball velocity, while Snow Canyon countered with lefty ace Carston Herman.
A four-spot in the fifth off Herman eventually led to the Panthers pulling off the 5-3 upset to split the series. However, it was a moment of redemption for reliever Cade Iverson that may have made the biggest difference.
Iverson was cut by Snow Canyon head coach Reed Secrist as a sophomore. The senior submarining-knuckleballer earned the six-out save by completely shutting down the potent Warriors lineup over the final two innings. It was vindication a long time in the making.
“I’ve been waiting for this for two years,” Iverson said. “It feels great. I wanted to get them back and show them I shouldn’t have been cut.”
Staheli controlled the Warriors through the first five innings, allowing three runs and striking out nine.
After getting a good read on Herman all night, the Panthers broke through with four runs in the fifth. His command wasn’t up to his normal standards and Pine View was tracking him all night. He struck out only two hitters, a season-low.
In the pivotal fifth, Tristen Bird drew a leadoff walk before Luke Iverson lined a one-out single to right. It got through right fielder Tanner Truman, rolling all the way to the wall to allow Bird to score. The Panthers followed with a walk, single and a double by Staheli to score four and chase Herman from the game. It brought the score to its eventual final, 5-3, in favor of Pine View.
After Landon Frei escaped the jam and got the final two outs, Iverson entered for the top of the sixth and the Warriors on their heels.
Pine View head coach Glen MacLellan and pitching coach JP Dewitt had discussed going to Brandon Roundy to try to close it out but agreed that Cade Iverson was their guy.
“Let’s give them the thing they’re completely not used to,” Dewitt said.
Where Staheli uses every inch of his 6-foot 5-inch frame to extend from over the top, Iverson uses a submarine style, releasing the ball from a near-hip level in the vein of Brad Ziegler, Byung-hyun Kim or Tim Dilalrd. From that low slot, he throws a knuckleball that dances away from right-handed hitters.
And if that wasn’t enough, Iverson mixes it up and comes from the top as well if he needs to give hitters even another look on a traditional fastball.
Dewitt said the Panthers haven’t seen anything like Iverson’s repertoire. Evidently, Snow Canyon hasn’t either.
Iverson threw only 20 pitches to get the final six outs. In a key sixth inning when Snow Canyon needed to answer the crooked number the Panthers had posted, he threw only five. Easton Rigby rolled over a ball to third on his first delivery. Then he got Jackson Ence down 0-2 before getting a fly ball to center. Sam Lindsey then grounded weakly to first on a check-swing on the first pitch he saw.
In the bottom of the seventh, Iverson struck out the first two hitters he saw, sending them back to the dugout shaking their heads be it from anger, disagreement with strike calls or general disbelief. Isaac Lyon drew a two-out walk to bring the always dangerous Frei up to the plate as the tying run. Frei launched the first pitch he saw deep to center but Dylan Becker made a nice running grab to clinch the win and start the party.
The win returned Pine View to the top of the Region 9 standings in a tie with Snow Canyon and Desert Hills. The Panthers were in first before losing to Cedar on April 16 and the first game against the Warriors on Tuesday. The Panthers now have to get through the Thunder and Canyon View in their venture to win the region outright.
“We’re hungry,” MacLellan said. “These kids are ready to eat. This is what this is about.”
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