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West Ridge rallies into semifinals

SPANISH FORK — West Ridge star Colin Swanger could've had several different thoughts swirling around his head as he stood on second base during the final half of the final inning of his team's first-round playoff game against No. 4 Panguitch.

He could've thought about how well he had played up to that point. Or about how, despite throwing a complete game and only allowing four hits, he was on the verge of defeat.

Instead, what he imagined — and what he witnessed a few seconds later — was the sight of his teammate, Sam Reed, drilling a single to left field to bring in pinch-runner Shane Anderson, stationed at third, as well as himself.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh, Reed's two-run walk-off single handed No. 2 West Ridge a thrilling, 4-3 come-from-behind win over Panguitch in the quarterfinal round of the 1A baseball tournament Monday afternoon.

"I actually pictured that in my mind, that exact same thing happening," said Swanger. "And it just worked out ... It was beautiful."

West Ridge will meet Region 17 neighbor St. Joseph in the 1A semifinals at 11 a.m. Friday at UVSC.

In a game filled with several memorable moments and centered around a fantastic pitchers' duel, Swanger was undoubtedly the star of the show.

He finished with seven strikeouts, including four of the first five batters he faced, and only got into trouble on a couple of occasions.

His opposite number, Panguitch ace Josh Bateman, was also outstanding. Bateman settled down in the third inning and threw well up until the end.

For a while, it appeared Bateman would come out ahead of Swanger.

Runs were at a premium throughout, and with the game tied, 2-2, in the top half of the seventh, Panguitch's No. 9 hitter, Riley Taylor, came up big.

Taylor, who finished 2-for-2 with two runs, put his team in a position to win when his sacrifice fly to center field scored Brady Owens.

However, Swanger and Co. had different ideas.

Daniel Baer and Swanger both reached in the bottom half of the frame, and Reed won it with his two-run single.

This is the first time since 2002 that Panguitch won't be a participant in the semifinals.

Just being able to play was special for Swanger, who shined in the pressure-packed environment.

Swanger, from Nashville, Tenn., came — and graduated — from West Ridge Academy, which is known as a largely preventive program for troubled youth, last year. However, he began to slip back into his some old habits, and he was sent back to West Ridge just after the start of the 2007 baseball season.

"This is pretty much what I live for right here," he said. "Back home, I quit baseball and I was having some trouble. No words can explain (being able to play for West Ridge). It's just so nice."