High school baseball: It will be a Rams showdown on Friday for a berth in the 2A state championship
South Sevier and Parowan are the last two teams remaining in the 2A state tournament winners bracket heading into Friday’s games.
Top-seeded South Sevier narrowly toppled Kanab 11-10 in the Thursday’s opening quarterfinal matchup at Gate Field at Kearns High School, while Parowan rolled past Enterprise 11-0 in the second game — setting the stage for the Rams showdown for a spot in the 2A championship game.
About midway through the showdown between South Sevier and Kanab, it looked like the Rams were destined to fall into the one-loss bracket as they trailed Kanab 8-0 after 4 1⁄2 innings.
The narrative seemed to be lining up perfectly for the fifth-seeded Cowboys, who came into the game red hot — winning 10 of its last 11 games and eight straight.
Seemingly down-and-out, the Rams showed what their head coach, Eric Baker, could only describe as “sheer heart.”
Over the course of the next 1 ½ innings, South Sevier scored 11 unanswered runs to turn the game completely upside down.
“We came out flat … down 8-0, that’s good enough for anybody to roll over and quit,” Baker said. “We had a conversation after the fifth inning with our boys and said we needed to make the adjustment and change something, and I’m just proud of them for making that change.”
Kanab pitcher Griffen Bone, who was working on a shutout through his first four innings on the mound, began to slow down in the fifth inning.
Noticing the fatigue, Baker said he and the coaches talked to the players about focusing on seeing their pitches.
Following the advice, the Rams finally managed to get some runs on the board, as Riley Barney picked up a two-run RBI single on the team’s third at bat of the fifth inning.
A third run was scored in the fifth, and as the Rams made their way into the sixth inning down only five runs, they began to smell the blood in the water.
South Sevier picked up three outs in Kanab’s first four at bats in the top of the sixth, and with momentum on its side for the first time in the game, they began to pour it on when their batters began to step up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
An RBI triple from Hagun Morrell and an RBI single from Barney on consecutive at bats forced the Cowboys to go to their bullpen in an attempt to slow the damage being put on by the Rams — who now trailed by only three runs.
From that point on, Kanab’s pitchers struggled to find the strike zone, walking in five of the next six runs that were scored by the Rams.
It wasn’t just the Cowboys who had their bullpen tested in the game, but South Sevier did as well. Both teams used four pitchers in the game.
Carrying a 11-8 lead into the top of the seventh, the Rams had a chance to close the game out, and after giving up a quick run in the inning with only one out, they turned to freshman pitcher Stockton Roberts.
Roberts secured the second out on a line out to left field, but Kanab’s Kale Glover tagged up to score a run and make it a one-score ball game.
After intentionally walking Kanab’s RJ Mognett — who hit a two-run home run earlier in the game — Roberts and the Rams had the bases loaded, needing only one more out to end the game.
“I knew I had to just step up and throw strikes,” Roberts said. “I had faith in the kids behind me and I knew that they were going to make a play, so I needed to get the out any way I could.”
Roberts only needed one pitch as Kanab popped out to left field to end the game.
Baker said that some consider the bullpen to be his team’s biggest weakness, but in a game that became a battle of pitching depth, it was his bullpen that allowed the Rams to come out with a narrow victory.
“We’ve got a lot more (in our bullpen) than people think,” Baker said. “Our last three pitchers were all freshmen, so we’ve got a lot of depth that people may or may not be aware of. They came in and you saw them do their jobs, gave us ground balls and fly balls, and just put the hitters off balance.”
For No. 6 seed Parowan, pitching was the difference in its big win over No. 2 seed Enterprise.
Pitcher Shaydon Benson didn’t allow a hit over five innings while striking out 12 in leading his team to the victory. He’s done for the tournament and just like South Sevier, the depth of Parowan’s staff will be key over the next two days.
At the plate, Treven Yardley had a big day for the Rams going 3 for 4 while teammate Jace Little went 1 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs.