OREM – With three of the four teams in the no-loss bracket and a strong-pitching squad hoping to make noise in the one-loss bracket, Region 9 has an excellent chance at bringing home another state 3A baseball championship.
Region 9 champ Dixie leads the charge, but will have its hands full with a quarterfinal game against Snow Canyon Thursday at 11 a.m. at Utah Valley University’s Brent Brown Ballpark. The Flyers won both regular-season meetings between the two, but both games were decided by a single run.
The other Thursday quarterfinal is Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at UVU, with two-time defending champ Pine View (14-10) taking on Park City (21-3), the lone non-Region 9 team left in the winners bracket.
“We pretty much expected our teams to do well,” said Pine View coach Troy Wall. “Region 9 always plays the best baseball. Even Desert Hills in the losers bracket, they’ll be back in the mix, you’ll see.”
Wall also showed a ton of respect for his Thursday opponent, the Miners, who the Panthers beat 6-5 in the preseason.
“We played them earlier this year and I can tell you, they’re the real deal,” he said. “Especially that dominant pitcher of theirs, Brady. When we beat them, we just kind of outlasted him and then got to their relief pitcher.”
Brady, who shut out Desert Hills in a 1-0 thriller Saturday, said he was especially proud to beat a southern Utah team.
“Baseball down there is known to be the best,” he said. “This is our first time in the winners bracket, so we feel like we’re breaking some new ground, making some history. Now we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Wall said Pine View will likely start Jagun Leavitt, his ace. Leavitt allowed one run in a complete-game victory over Region 11 champ Bear River on Saturday. Leavitt is 6-3 on the year, with an earned run average of 2.02. He’ll likely face Brady, who has an ERA of 0.34 while racking up eight wins and one loss. He’s allowed just nine walks in 62 1/3 innings this season.
“We’re just going to have to go up there and battle,” Wall said. “Maybe we can scratch a run or two across and then get to their bullpen.”
As for the Flyers (21-3) and Warriors (16-9), expect a barnburner when the ball drops. In their first meeting at Snow Canyon, the Warriors led 3-1 into the fourth inning. Back-to-back RBI singles by the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, Chase Lundin and Kaleb Leavitt, tied the game in the fourth and Dixie took the lead for good in the fifth with an RBI by freshman Cooper Vest to hold on for a 4-3 win.
In the second meeting, three days later at Flyer Field, Warrior pitcher Cannon Secrist had a two-hit shutout going through six innings as SC held a 5-0 lead. But Dixie stormed back with a monster six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh. Lundin and Leavitt had RBIs to help bring the Flyers within 5-4 and Max Walsh scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Hobbs Nyberg won it for Dixie with a sacrifice fly that scored Leavitt.
For Dixie, that was the start of what is now a 10-game winning streak. The Flyers beat Richfield 5-0 and downed Stansbury 2-0 in Saturday’s first two rounds. Tyson Fisher is the Flyer ace, plus one of the top power hitters in Region 9. Nyberg led Dixie (and the region) in batting with a .506 batting average.
The Warriors, who are 6-2 since those losses to Dixie, served notice Saturday that they are a force to be reckoned with, defeating Region 12 champion Canyon View 18-0 and blasting a decent Juan Diego team 8-1. Snow Canyon had 30 hits in two games Saturday.
In fact, the Warriors scored at least eight runs in each of their last six wins and had 11 runs or more in five of those. Saturday, Snow Canyon hit .429 as a team (30 for 70). Warriors Jamison Day and Austin Deming had seven hits each, with Day going 5 for 5 against Juan Diego.
The Dixie-Snow Canyon winner will play the Pine View-Park City winner on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at BB Ballpark. The 3A championship game is Saturday at noon with an “if necessary” game to follow, should the one-loss team prevail.
Desert Hills appears to be the most dangerous team to watch out of the one-loss bracket. The Thunder (18-6) play Ridgeline (16-6) at 11 a.m. at the Spanish Fork Sports Complex (Field 8) in their first elimination game. The winner will battle the winner of Canyon View (15-9) and Bear River (19-7).
Desert Hills lost its chance at being Region 9 champ with two straight road losses in April – 8-5 at Cedar and 11-6 at Snow Canyon. But DH has the pitching depth to make some noise. The Thunder would have to win two games Thursday, two on Friday and three on Saturday to be crowned state champions.
“I feel like even … in the losers bracket, we have the pitching to get it done,” said DH coach Chris Allred. “We have a pretty deep bullpen.”
The Thunder pitching staff, led by Drew Thorpe, Trey Winget and Chad Nelson, had a team ERA of 2.45 in the regular season and led the region in strikeouts (191) as well.
Ridgeline should be a challenge in that first game. The Riverhawks have 16 wins and have beaten Juan Diego (twice) and Snow Canyon this year. Ridgeline is led by pitching ace Parker Bernhardt.
On the lower half of the one-loss bracket, Stansbury and Juan Diego are teams to watch.
One of the main themes this season with coaches is the new pitch-count rule. The old rule allowed 14 innings pitched per pitcher per calendar week, but has been replaced by the more restrictive pitch-count rule.
“It’s going to be interesting how coaches handle this,” Pine View’s Wall said. “Do you throw your ace just 35 pitches the first day so he can go again the next day? Or do you at least keep him under 60 so he can go again on Saturday? Some coaches might have their ace throw 35 the first day, under 25 the second day and then still have him available for Saturday. Who knows? This pitch-count thing is going to be crazy this year.”
One thing is sure: If a pitcher throws 61 or more pitches in any one game, he is done for the tournament.
Here is the official UHSAA statement and rule:
UHSAA Pitch Count Rule
Approved Nov 9, 2016 – Effective Spring 2017 Baseball Season
The revised pitching policy in Rule 6-2-6 for 2016 from the NFHS requires state associations to adopt a pitch count rule instead of the existing 14 maximum innings per calendar week.
Varsity Pitches – Required Rest
86-110 – 3 days
61-85 – 2 days
36-60 – 1 day
1-35 – 0 days*
* – Additionally, no pitcher may throw more than 60 pitches over two days. If they throw 60 pitches in two days, there will be one day of required rest.
• A pitcher will be allowed to finish a batter if they hit the limit (110 in varsity play) during an at-bat, but must exit the game after the hitter.
• PENALTY: If the pitch-count rule is exceeded, the first offense is a coach suspension for two games; second offense and subsequent offense is forfeiture of contest. If there is a post-season violation, it is a forfeit.
NOTE: Umpires will NOT mediate pitch counts. All concerns about pitch counts need to be addressed by the Athletic Director or UHSAA.
3A State Tournament Thursday Schedule
Dixie vs. Snow Canyon, 11 a.m. at Brent Brown Ballpark (UVU) – ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
Pine View vs. Park City, 1:30 p.m. at Brent Brown Ballpark (UVU) – ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
Bear River vs. Canyon View, 11 a.m. at Spanish Fork High School (loser eliminated) – KSUB radio
Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, 11 a.m. at Spanish Fork Sports Complex Field 8 (loser eliminated) – 890-AM KDXU
Stansbury vs. Carbon, 1:30 p.m. at Spanish Fork High School (loser eliminated)
Juan Diego vs. Union, 1:30 p.m. at Spanish Fork Sports Complex Field 8 (loser eliminated)
BR-CV winner vs. DH-Ridge. winner, 4:30 p.m. at Brent Brown Ballpark (loser eliminated) – KSUB and/or ESPN radio
Stan.-Carbon winner vs. JD-Union winner, 7 p.m. at Brent Brown Ballpark (loser eliminated)
3A State Tournament Friday Schedule
Semifinal game, 4:30 p.m. at Brent Brown Ballpark – ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
Elimination games at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., all at Brent Brown Ballpark– ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
3A State Tournament Saturday Schedule
Elimination game at 10 a.m.– ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
Championship game 1 at noon– ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
Championship game 2 at 2 p.m. (if necessary)– ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM
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