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High school baseball: Kanab records third straight upset, secures spot in 2A championship

No. 6 Kanab survived a late rally from top seeded South Sevier and knocked off the Rams 10-8 Friday at Larry H. Miller Park

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Last season in the quarterfinals, Kanab took a 9-1 lead over South Sevier only to watch the Rams come back and win 11-10.

Safe to say when Kanab coach Erik Brinkerhoff saw his team give up two runs in the bottom of the seventh and watch a four-run lead get cut in half Friday, nerves started to creep in.

This time around, however, the Cowboys finished the job, picking up their third straight upset win of the 2A tournament and clinching a spot in the championship.

“Our leadership in our dugout really took over for us and they weren’t going to let us fold down,” said Brinkerhoff.

Sophomore Kashton Kabonic had a monster day at the plate with a double, a triple and four RBIs. Junior Griffen Bone also pitched in three RBIs for the Cowboys, who were led on the mound by sophomore Logan Veater.

“This is great to see because Bone is a junior and Kabonic is a sophomore. This experience will go into many years to come,” Brinkerhoff said.

After a scoreless first inning, both offenses exploded in the second. Kanab got things going when Veater singled on a hard ground ball to right, scoring the first run of the game.

Two batters later, junior Lane Sims tallied his first RBI on a single to left, doubling the Kanab lead. Kabonic sent the Kanab dugout into a frenzy with his ground rule double over the right field fence, and when the dust settled, the Cowboys had a 4-0 lead.

“I think that with the guys getting on base in front of me and getting the right pitches to drive, it helps,” Kabonic said.

Not to be outdone by their opponents, the Rams answered back. With two runners on, sophomore Kanyon Okerlund delivered, smashing a fly ball over the left fielder’s head and scoring the first runs of the game for South Sevier.

Okerlund would find homeplate on a ground ball single by sophomore Kameron Hessey, and senior Riley Barney recorded an RBI on a fielder’s choice to level the game at four.

“You have to give South Sevier credit. They bounced back so quick. They hit the ball hard and put the ball in play and they play hard,” said Brinkerhoff. “They are a good team.”

The Rams added one more run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Peyton Ingram to take the lead for the first time in the game.

In the fourth, Kanab put the pressure back on the Rams. With the bases loaded, Bone smacked the ball into the gap in left center, clearing the bases with a triple. Kabonic then added to his RBI total with a base hit, and the Cowboys found themselves back on top.

After allowing no hits in the fourth or fifth innings, Kanab added insurance runs to its lead. With a man on second, Kabonic copied almost exactly what his teammate Bone had done in the fourth, sending the ball to left center and securing a triple. Freshman Brogun Virostko added one more with an RBI single and Kanab finished the inning with a five-run lead.

South Sevier threatened in the sixth with a sacrifice fly by Hessey, but the Kanab defense shut down any other threat.

Trailing by four, the Rams opened the final inning with senior Ridge Tebbs reaching base on an error and then stealing second to get into scoring position. A single by fellow senior Keegon Heath scored Tebbs and got the South Sevier crowd believing a comeback was in the works.

With runners on second and third after a walk, Ingram fouled out to the right field side. Heath advanced from third for the score, but a heads up play by Kanab’s defense got junior Paysen Mitchell out at second, placing Kanab only one out away from the victory.

“I want to give a shoutout to coach Staheli. He’s been helping us do breathing and really calming our minds with the mental side of the game, and I think that was our edge for today,” said Kabonic.

The final out came on a fly ball to center field, as the Cowboys celebrated the victory.

“I told the guys just barely that we are not done. It’s great to be there, but we don’t want to play two games tomorrow,” Brinkerhoff said. “Even if we have to, we still aren’t done.”

He continued, “These kids are having the time of their life right now, and we are just having fun playing baseball. These kids keep stepping up to the opportunities. These are great teams, but these guys are just excited to play.”