SPANISH FORK — Any baseball expert will tell you that good pitching beats good hitting. Cedar High proved that theory in the first game of the 3A state tournament winners' bracket semifinals Thursday morning by beating Wasatch 2-1.

Cedar came into the game with 3A's lowest ERA — giving up just more than two runs per game. Wasatch had a team batting average of nearly .380 and the second highest scoring average in the classification at more than 10 runs a game.

Jeff Kupfer has been the best pitcher on a good Cedar staff. He is not overpowering, just effective.

"He just hits his spots," said Cedar coach Steve Rollo. "He was putting it where he wanted, and they were being aggressive."

According to a professional scout at the game, Kupfer was doing it by getting ahead in the count and keeping the ball down in the strike zone. He did not give any "free passes" as he did not surrender a single walk, and he helped himself by making several good defensive plays. Including a momentum-shifting one in the second inning.

Wasatch got its first two hitters on base, and it attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with only one out. Kupfer burst from the mound and fielded the bunt cleanly.

"Brady was yelling 'three, three' so I knew I had a chance to get the lead runner," said Kupfer. "It is a play we practice all the time, and it worked great."

Instead of two runners in scoring position, Wasatch had only one, and Cedar escaped without giving up a run.

Kupfer was also aided by the free-swinging of the Wasps. He tossed a seven-inning complete game and only threw 69 pitches to do so. The last three innings ended with Kupfer throwing only six, eight and seven pitches, respectively.

"I had pretty good control of my fastball, not quite as much on my curve," said Kupfer. "I knew they were good hitters but not much else about them. I wanted to try to pitch them inside. I figured not many pitchers had tried to bring it in on the hands on them."

It worked. He gave up only five hits and one run while striking out only two. Wasatch's lone run came on an RBI double by Josh Green in the sixth inning.

Nick Chadwick nearly matched Kupfer's performance from the mound. The senior hurler kept Wasatch in the game. He gave up only seven hits and two runs in a complete-game effort. He struck out five hitters, and he gave up only one walk. The defense behind him did not commit an error, and in only one inning did he allow a runner to advance to second.

That inning was the third, when Cedar scored both of its runs. Kaylon Pickett singled to lead off the inning, and Shawn Slaugh doubled to advance both runners into scoring position. Pickett scored on a wild pitch, and Kupfer hit the team's only RBI by slapping a single to score Slaugh. It was all the team needed.

Cedar advances to play Carbon in the winners' bracket today at 4:30 p.m. Wasatch will now play the winner of Canyon View against Delta today at 11 a.m. in the elimination bracket.

In other 3A playoff games Thursday:

CARBON 2, DIXIE 1: Troy Grundy added to his reputation as one of the best pitchers in the state by throwing a complete-game, three-hit victory for the Dinos. Dustin Holt fired a gem for the Flyers, giving up only four hits, but it was Carbon that advanced. Tyler Nelson and Adam Martinez had the RBIs for the Dinos.

CANYON VIEW 8, SNOW CANYON 3: Dallin Staheli was the star for Canyon View. He hit a home run and a single and went the distance on the mound while allowing only two hits.

CANYON VIEW 5, DELTA 0: Canyon View scored four runs in the second inning on three consecutive beaned batters. Jarrett Platt drove in a two-run single to seal the win against Delta.

DELTA 4, EMERY 3: No other information available.

BEAR RIVER 14, GRANTSVILLE 3: No other information available.


Cedar 2

Wasatch 1