ST. GEORGE — The defending state champions brought their bats to the park Wednesday and no one could stop them.
Facing elimination, 2021 4A champion Snow Canyon let its offense do the talking, stunning two region champions along the way. The Warriors mercy-ruled both Dixie (16-2) and Bear River (11-1) to force a Thursday grudge match with the Flyers.
“We went in with the mentality that we’re not done yet,” said SCHS slugger Jake Johnson. “Ever since we lost to Bear River (on Monday), we decided that we do not want to go home.”
The Bears stunned Snow Canyon 12-3 earlier this week and Snow Canyon faced the real threat that it wouldn’t be around later in the week to defend its state crown.
Since then, the Warriors have outscored their opponents 46-11, including the 16-2 beatdown of Dixie. With the new bracketing, which forces a clear winner from each bracket before a championship series on the weekend between the upper and lower bracket winners, Snow Canyon faced the prospect of beating Dixie to get a chance at, well, Dixie on Thursday.
“Our bats never got going that first game against Bear River,” said Johnson, who scored four times in the two wins Wednesday. “We weren’t mad, but we just wanted to make sure our bats got going. And they did.”
Playing two games in one day, even with the blowouts, is never easy, especially considering the sweltering 96-degree heat at Dixie State’s Bruce Hurst Field. The Warriors spotted Dixie a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but captured the advantage in the top of the second with a Sam Lindsey RBI single and bases clearing double by No. 9 hitter Drake Kelly.
“Love that kid, love that kid,” Snow Canyon head coach Reed Sechrist said. “He’s been working hard and I knew it was going to happen. He’d been swinging the bat well and I felt like he was about to get over the top. That was nice to see.”
Kelly, who had five RBIs in the game, made it 4-2 on the play and he was part of the bigger 8-run really in the top of the third as the Warriors pushed ahead to a 12-2 lead.
“I don’t know if we were mad, but we knew we weren’t swinging it as well as we’re capable of on Monday,” Sechrist said. “That happens, but I like this tournament format where you can come back and make up for where you fell short before.”
Dixie, which lost just one Region 10 game all year and hadn’t allowed more than nine runs to anyone, seemed shell-shocked. The Flyers couldn’t solve SCHS pitcher Kyson Goates and the Warriors’ lead grew to 13-2 in the fourth and then 16-2 with another four hits in the top of the fifth.
Snow Canyon ended up with 14 hits and drew six walks. Lindsey and Johnson had six of the 14 hits, Johnson doubled twice and Luke Anderson singled and tripled in the game.
With the win, the Warriors force a bracket championship Thursday at 4 p.m. at Hurst Field. Dixie, whose two losses in the last three months were both to Snow Canyon, will try and purge the memory of the loss in the late afternoon tile. The Flyers fell to 23-5 with the loss Wednesday, while Snow Canyon is 21-10.
It was just two days ago that the Bears (23-7) had their way with the Warriors in a 12-3 victory. But on Wednesday, Snow Canyon was unstoppable.
The Warriors got a pair of doubles from Logan Mendenhall and four RBIs from Isaac Lyon while busting the game wide open in the fourth inning. Ahead 3-1, Snow Canyon jumped all over Bear River pitcher Jhett Roche, plating five runs in the frame.
SCHS added three more in the bottom of the six, with Lyon touching home after a bases loaded walk to end the contest.
Pine View 6, Green Canyon 5 (F/8)
Aden Mace held the Wolves scoreless through five plus innings, but Green Canyon rallied for four in the sixth and a tying fifth run in the top of the seventh to force an extra inning.
After stopping Green Canyon in the top of the extra frame, Pine View got runners to second and third in the bottom half of the eighth. With speedy Kyson Milne at third, GCHS’s pitcher uncorked a wild pitch and Milne made it home without a slide or throw to end the game.
The Panthers looked like they were going to break the game wide open early. With a 2-0 lead in the first, PVHS left the bases loaded and with a 5-0 lead in the second, Pine View had runners at the corners and just one out. But Wolves pitcher Ryker Ericson wriggled out of the jams and kept his team in the game until the late comeback.
With that afternoon win, Pine View, 21-5, earned the late matchup with Crimson Cliffs. Green Canyon finished the season with the loss, ending up 17-12.