Thirteen teams entered the 2A state baseball tournament, and now only three remain.
With a 12-5 win over sixth-seeded Parowan in the winners bracket Friday evening at Kearns high school, the South Sevier Rams advanced to the 2A state championship game, where they will either face Parowan again, or Kanab — who won it’s matchup with Enterprise 9-6 Friday night to keep its hopes of playing for a championship alive.
Unlike its quarterfinal game just a day earlier — where it trailed Kanab 8-0 through 4 ½ innings — South Sevier was the side that jumped out to a fast start in the battle of the Rams.
Bats heated up quickly for South Sevier, which notched five hits on its first six at bats. The top-seeded squad rattled off eight runs in the first two innings, all while keeping Parowan off the board.
After charting unfamiliar territory in its prior game against the Cowboys, the Rams found themselves in a position much closer to home with an early onslaught of runs.
“That’s the kind of game that we want to play and that’s the kind of game that we’re used to playing,” South Sevier head coach Eric Baker said.
“We came out hot early…and I think you saw a similar approach today that we saw in those last couple of innings (against Kanab). We were disciplined and we made them work to try and beat us.”
Facing pitchers that they knew liked to attack the zone, Baker said that his players excelled at waiting for the right pitch, and then making contact with the bat.
Tait Brown, Benjamin Northrup, Keegon Heath, Hagun Morrell and Peyton Ingram each notched early RBIs for the Rams.
By the end of the second inning, Parowan was already on its third pitcher of the game, and it looked as though it was destined for the loser’s bracket a bit quicker than it had anticipated.
Finding itself in an eight-run hole, Parowan, to its credit, began to make an impressive rally, scoring five runs in the top of the third inning to cut the lead to three and make it a ball game again.
Senior Jace Little provided the highlight hit of the inning with a two-run RBI double that injected a bit of momentum into the Parowan dugout.
But just as Parowan responded to its early eight-run deficit with runs of its own, South Sevier responded by putting the clamps on the rest of the way–allowing zero runs the remainder of the contest.
“That’s just all mental toughness,” Baker said.
“If a team puts up five runs in an inning, that’s an easy moment for you to just sink your head and say ‘oh darn it, here we go.’ But these boys have enough mental toughness to weather those storms and then come back swinging themselves.”
South Sevier trickled in four additional runs over the next three innings to rebuild its lead, and like he did in the quarterfinals against Kanab, freshman Stockton Roberts came to the mound and closed the game out over the final four innings–finishing the job that fellow pitchers Ryker Freeman, Ridge Tebbs and Tyson Robb started.
Taiten Brown tied for a game-high three RBIs, leading a pack of seven players who notched an RBI for South Sevier.
After the complete showing Friday evening, the young Rams squad will look to maintain its form as they’re just one win away from the school’s first state championship since 2002.
“It’ll be a big moment for them, but at the end of the day they’re playing the same game they just played (tonight), so they just need to stay easy, stay smooth and stay disciplined,” Baker said.
The team that’s given South Sevier its greatest test of the postseason, Kanab, may wind up being its opponent in the championship game, as the fifth-seeded Cowboys defeated Enterprise Friday night.
The Cowboys scored in every inning but the seventh and got a solid pitching performance from junior Mace Terry, who threw a strike on 57% of his 108 pitches.
Like the Rams in the matchup that preceded their game, the Cowboys had seven different players notch an RBI against an Enterprise defense that recorded a 2.72 ERA as a team this season, according to MaxPreps.
Kanab had to fight off a late surge from the Wolves, who trailed by five runs heading into the final half-inning, but scored two late runs to cut the lead to three before grounding out for the final out of the game.
With the victory, the Cowboys draw a matchup with Parowan Saturday morning at 10 a.m. to determine who will advance to the title round to take on what will be a playoff rematch against South Sevier for both teams.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for Kanab, who’s game ended at 11 p.m. Friday.