It was business as usual for Desert Hills on Thursday afternoon.
Despite the sudden shift in venues — a result of Dixie State hosting the Division II West Regional — that moved the 3A state baseball tournament to Utah Valley University, the Thunder kept an even keel and played their game to perfection, dropping a red-hot Carbon squad 2-0 in the 3A quarterfinals.
Desert Hills moves onto the semifinals against Region 9 rival Snow Canyon today at 4:30 p.m., marking the third time the Thunder have reached the semifinals since the program’s first season in 2009.
The Thunder lost to Juan Diego in each of the two previous trips in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
With the Dons out of the mix, and Desert Hills playing to near perfection, it’s hard to imagine another team denying Jerry Beck’s squad a trip to the championship game.
Especially when things go as well as they did against the Dinos.
Baden Powell was a beast on the mound, collecting four strikeouts and giving up just three hits in six complete innings. His spectacular double play in the sixth, during which he reflexively snagged a line drive and made a quick throw to first base, was a showstopper.
“That’s the way he goes, he has several pitches he can rely on,” Beck said. “He did a fantastic job of keeping us in it all day long.”
Intriguingly, the last time Desert Hills met Carbon was in similar circumstances in the 2011 3A quarterfinals, which the Thunder won 12-3.
On Thursday the results were similar, even if the route taken was quite different. Read: more defensive superlatives, less offensive pizzazz.
“We realize every game this weekend is going to be a grinder,” Beck continued.
After three-and-a-half innings of rock solid pitching from Powell and Carbon’s Jarod Lessar — who collected three-straight strikeouts in the bottom of the second — Desert Hills finally got the bats going.
With a runner in scoring position, Zac Ivie grounded a ball past second base for the first run of the game.
“I just got up there and knew had to do something big. It was 0-0 and I had a runner on third, I had no other option,” Ivie said. “I had to bring him in and that’s what I did.”
In the fifth, Carson Clement and Blake Betts both collected hits, with Clement’s single to center going deep enough to allow Betts to score from second base.
With the 2-0 lead Desert Hills turned to closer Dylan File, who relieved Powell on the mound in the final inning and secured the save with two strikeouts after allowing two runners on base.
“They were definitely on a hot streak,” Ivie said of Carbon, which had defeated Juan Diego and Dixie High on Saturday. “But we never panicked. We knew we just had to wait for our inning.”