WEST JORDAN — There will be no repeat in the baseball state championships this season.
The Desert Hills Thunder, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and reigning champion from the 2019 season, fell in stunning mercy-rule fashion to No. 5 Mountain Crest on Wednesday 13-0 in five innings. The loss was the Thunder’s second of the tournament, eliminating them from competition and ending their season. On a day where the team woke up to find their equipment trailer broken into and ransacked, Desert Hills persevered through one win in a doubleheader before the wheels came off against the Mustangs.
“That was just a crazy game for us,” Desert Hills head coach Kevin Cave said. “Absolutely nothing went right from the start. I don’t even think we can take anything from that game.”
Things started awry for Desert Hills, allowing two singles in the first three batters. Starter Karson Irvin pitched around the trouble in that frame but didn’t escape unscathed in the second as Mountain Crest rallied for three runs, benefitting from an uncharacteristic two errors from shortstop Payton Gubler. They added two more in the third and were out to a 5-0 lead quickly.
The Thunder began a counterattack in the bottom of the first as Cole DeCastro and Jackson Turley reached base to start the home half. However, Gubler lined into a bad-luck double play. The threat ended after Reggie Newby flew out. Desert Hills would not record another hit in the contest. Despite only striking out two, Mountain Crest starter Jaden Jones kept the Thunder from ever compiling another major scoring threat.
The game spiraled to unsalvageable in the top of the fifth as the Mustangs scored eight runs, only three of which were earned. Desert Hills went through three pitchers without much success.
Joey Brooks reached on an error to start the bottom of the fifth but was doubled off first on another Gubler line out that ended the game and the season.
It was an unceremonious end for the Thunder, who tied with Snow Canyon for the Region 9 title and came in as the favorites by RPI to take home the state championship.
The team learned earlier in the day that their equipment trailer had been broken into, and equipment, including player gear, was stolen. The coaching staff scrambled to locate new gear to purchase, and bench players shared their cleats with the starters.
On top of it all, the Thunder had to test their pitching depth after Kaden Terry and Gubler, who had started every regional game, were forced to rest from the mound due to pitch count rules. Thus the duo that led Desert Hills to the No. 1 seed were powerless to assist.
Mountain Crest advances to play Snow Canyon in the best-of-three championship finals round starting Friday.
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