Prep baseball: Thunder strike back; Flyers get miracle comeback

ST. GEORGE – It was a night of big innings for the three victors in Region 9 baseball Thursday. Desert Hills grabbed a share of first place behind a six-run fifth inning against Pine View, while Hurricane opened the game with three runs in the first inning to sprint past Cedar. But Dixie had the biggest single-inning of the evening, not because the number of runs, but the timing in their win over Snow Canyon. All six of the Flyers runs came in the bottom of the seventh.

The result of the crazy night is that five of the six teams in the region are within a game of each other. Here’s a look at the night’s action:

Desert Hills 9, Pine View 5

The big fifth inning in this one actually looked like it would go Pine View’s way as the Panthers scored three runs in the top of the fifth. But the Thunder’s half of the inning was even bigger. PV’s three-spot made it 5-3 for the Panthers. DH’s six-spot in the bottom half put the game away for the home-standing Thunder.

“It was a long, crazy inning and it was kind of a role reversal from Tuesday night,” DH coach Chris Allred said. “We gave them some runs with errors and things and they were the aggressors Tuesday. Tonight, we were the aggressors. That’s who we are and the way we play.”

Pine View’s Weston Sampson (9) and Desert Hills’ Sam Rhoton (21), Desert Hills vs Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 13, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

It was a pretty tight game, with the lead trading hands through the first five innings. Desert Hills led 1-0 after Chad Nelson’s sacrifice fly in the first inning. The Panthers went ahead 2-1 in the top of the second after No. 9 hitter Luke Green lined a two-out, two-run single to right field.

Sam Rhoton tied the game with an RBI double in the third and, later in the inning, Chad Nelson came home on a double steal with Seth Betts swiping second at the same time. Neither team scored in the fourth, setting up that game-deciding fifth.

Dawson Staheli started the scoring for Pine View with a sac fly to plate Kory Taigen and make it 3-3. Weston Sampson followed with a full-count line drive to right that scored Ryke Erickson and put PV back on top, 4-3. The next batter, Tanner Staheli, singled through the hole on the left side to make it 5-3 and the Panthers were thinking sweep.

Desert Hills’ Brigham Gardner (3), Desert Hills vs Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 13, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

But the Thunder wasted no time in the bottom of the fifth. After an error, a single and a fielder’s choice that was late at second put the bases loaded, Brigham Gardner stepped to the plate. The junior, making his first varsity start, stroked a two-run double to the gap in left-center to tie the game.

“This is a tough lineup to crack and I got my chance and I came through,” said Gardner, who had two doubles in the game. “I got done with the JV game and checked the lineup for pinch hitters, ’cause usually I’m a pinch hitter and I was like, ‘What? Where am I?’ Then I check it up and I was the DH and I was like, oh man, let’s go. I was happy, I was excited and I was ready.”

The next batter, Quinn Kiser, lined a single over the second baseman’s head to give Desert Hills the lead back, the fifth lead change of the game. Bo Barben, who came in to run for pitcher Alex Ekins, scored on the play to make it 6-5. After a pitching change, Trey Allred walked and then Trey Winget beat out a double play attempt to pick up an RBI and make it 7-5.

Desert Hills’ Sam Rhoton (21) is tagged out, Desert Hills vs Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 13, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

DH wasn’t done. Kiser scored on a double steal, the third of the game for the Thunder, to make it 8-5 and Seth Betts capped the big rally with an RBI double down the right field line to bring home Winget and make it 9-5.

When the dust had cleared, the Thunder had plated six runs on five hits, a walk, an error and a couple of fielder’s choices. Ekins, who entered in relief of DH starter Drew Thorpe, then took care of Pine View the rest of the way and recorded the win.

“This was the game that we had to have, we had to bounce back,” Ekins said. “We couldn’t lose this and fall two games behind ’cause then we’d be right with the other guys in the region. This was the game we had to rise above.”

All five of Pine View’s runs, which came off of starter Thorpe, were unearned. He struck out nine and gave up no walks. Ekins was lights out in relief, allowing just two hits and striking out four while also issuing no walks in his 2 1/3 innings.

“I was really happy about that,” Coach Allred said. “Tuesday was just the opposite. They gave us things today. We gave them things Tuesday. The biggest disappointment about our loss to them Tuesday was that we weren’t ready to play. We weren’t aggressive and we didn’t put pressure on Pine View to make plays. Tonight, we did that.”

Desert Hills’ Trey Winget (13), Desert Hills vs Pine View, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 13, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Desert Hills stole eight bases in the game and rapped out 10 hits, including three by Rhoton and two each by Gardner, Thorpe and Kiser. Gardner came into the game 1 for 7 on the season with no runs or RBIs. His two doubles produced his first two RBIs of the year.

“The funny thing is that I was kind of going back and forth on who to start between a couple of kids who have been really swinging it well in the JV games,” said Coach Allred, who was unhappy with his lineup’s production in Tuesday’s loss. “The tiebreaker between the two kids was strikeouts. Brigham had one and the other kid had two. But I’m glad I went with him because he had a heck of a night.”

After going error-free and issuing just one walk in Tuesday’s win, Pine View really hurt itself with six errors and seven walks. Offensively, Sampson and Tanner Staheli had three hits each to lead the Panthers. Both players hit doubles in the game.

The two teams are now tied for first in Region 9 with 3-1 records, with the Thunder 13-3 overall and the Panthers 10-7. Pine View had beaten D-Hills four straight times dating back to the 2014 state playoffs before Thursday’s Thunder win.

The Thunder face Cedar next week, with a Tuesday game (7 p.m.) at Thunder Field and a Thursday afternoon game (4 p.m.) at Cedar High. Pine View will battle Dixie next week, starting with Tuesday’s game at Flyer Field and Friday’s contest at PVHS. Both games are at 7 p.m.

Dixie 6, Snow Canyon 5

The frustration for the Flyers must have been palpable through five innings. At home, Dixie couldn’t even manage a hit off of Warriors starter Cannon Secrist and Snow Canyon had carved out a 3-0 lead with a run in the first and two more in the fifth on RBIs by Kaleb Gates and Jamison Day.

Even when the Flyers broke up the no-hit bid by Secrist in the sixth on a Hobbs Nyberg double to left, Dixie ended up leaving two runners stranded.

The frustration mounted for Dixie when Snow Canyon’s Davis Rigby doubled home a run in the top of the seventh to make it 4-0 and Austin Deming followed with an RBI single.

The situation was bleak for the team that was ranked No. 1 the entire preseason. Dixie was down 5-0 against a hot pitcher who had allowed just one hit and four base runners, two of which were erased on double plays.

But the Flyers caught a couple of breaks to start the bottom of the seventh. Secrist plunked the first batter, Tyson Fisher, and then Payden Harrah singled to center for Dixie’s second hit of the game. The next batter, Wyatt Woodland, loaded the bases when he, too, was hit by a pitch.

SC’s defense, which had been sharp, then opened the door with an error that scored two runs for Dixie, making it 5-2 with still no outs.

Dixie’s Hobbs Nyberg (9), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Makai Lee, who had pitched very well on Tuesday against the Flyers, came on in relief and recorded the first out right away. But the ground out moved runners to second and third and the next hitter, Chase Lundin, brought the lead runner home with a single to left. Kaleb Leavitt, the No. 9 hitter for Dixie, then stroked an RBI single to right to make it 5-4 with just one out.

With the region’s top hitter, Hobbs Nyberg at the plate, Lee worked the count to 1-2. But the next pitch was wild and Trey Johnson, who was running for catcher Lundin, sprinted across the plate with the tying run. Leavitt, who had stolen second, moved to third on the wild pitch.

On the next pitch, Nyberg hit a high fly ball to center field that was plenty deep to score Leavitt with the winning run.

The rally had three hits, an error, two hit batsmen and one huge sac fly.

Kayler Yates got the win for his two innings of relief work on the mound. He gave up two unearned runs and just two hits. Freshman Cooper Vest got no decision, though he pitched five innings and allowed just four hits and three runs. No Dixie player had more than one hit as the Flyers ended up with four in the game in 24 at bats.

For Snow Canyon, Day had two hits and a walk and knocked in a run. Secrist pitched well, allowing just two hits and three earned runs while flinging just 60 pitches. He retired Dixie in order, with the help of a couple of double plays, in the first five innings.

The Flyers improve to 2-2 in region with the sweep of the Warriors, with both games being one-run nailbiters. Dixie is 13-3 overall. Snow Canyon drops to 2-2 in region and 10-7 overall.

The Flyers face Pine View next week, with a Tuesday home game and then a Friday trip to Panther Field. Both games are at 7 p.m.

The Warriors will battle Hurricane next week, with a Tuesday contest at Tiger Field and a Friday game at Warrior Field. Start times are 7 p.m. for both matchups.

Hurricane 7, Cedar 4

A three-run head start was key for the Tigers, who never trailed in the game.

Tobie Swenson’s one-out RBI single to center field in the bottom of the first made it 1-0 and Nick Horlsey came in after a snap throw by the Cedar catcher went awry. The error made it 2-0 and Kolby Heaton’s RBI single to left chased home Michael Lacy and made it 3-0.

Cedar pitcher Bridger Bunnell settled down and shut the Tigers out in the second and third. Redman Korby Myers scored on an error and Ben Hulet knocked home Luke Maggio to cut it to 3-2 in the top of the third.

But the Tigers started to pull away after that. Hurricane had back-to-back-to-back hits in the bottom of the fourth. Alec Flemetakis singled to center and Noah Humphrey’s single set things up for Nick Horsley. After a wild pitch moved both runners up 90 feet, the senior slugger socked a deep ball to center field that went for a double and scored both runners.

Ahead 5-2, the Tigers rallied again in the fifth. Brock Starley’s sharp single to the left side scored Heaton with two outs. The next batter, Flemetakis, ripped a liner to left that brought home Logan Campbell and made it 7-2.

Hurricane’s Nick Horsley (4), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

On Tuesday, Hurricane gave up six runs in the bottom of the seventh before defeating Cedar 15-11 in eight innings. It looked like the Redmen might rally again on Thursday night. Markus Johnson’s two-run single in the sixth cut the Hurricane lead to 7-4 and Cedar got two on with one out in the seventh.

But Horsley, who had relieved Flemetakis in the sixth, struck out Chase Houston for the second out and got Cedar second baseman Ryan Hayward to fly out to center field to end the game.

Flemetakis got his fourth win of the season for the Tigers, pitching 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs. He struck out six and walked two. Horsley got the save, his first of the year, pitching 1 2/3 innings, allowing no runs and one hit. Swenson had three hits and an RBI, while Flemetakis and Horsley had two hits each. Hurricane totaled 12 hits in the game and 18 base runners during the course of the game.

Cedar had five hits and drew six walks. Ben Hulet led the way with two singles and a base on balls.

Hurricane, 8-8 overall and 2-2 in region, will battle Snow Canyon next week, with a home game Tuesday at 7 p.m. and a roadie at Warrior Field Friday at 7 p.m.

Cedar, 5-8 and 0-4, takes on Desert Hills with a 7 p.m. Tuesday game at Thunder Field and a Thursday contest at Cedar High at 4 p.m.

REGION 9 BASEBALL STANDINGS
Desert Hills 3-1 (13-3)
Pine View 3-1 (9-6)
Dixie 2-2 (13-3)
Snow Canyon 2-2 (10-7)
Hurricane 2-2 (8-8)
Cedar 0-4 (5-8)

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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