The 3A baseball playoff picture was still a mess heading into Tuesday night.
Snow Canyon, Dixie and Pine View, hovering around .500 baseball, looked to be fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Flyers hosted the Panthers Tuesday in a game the Flyers needed to win to keep their hopes alive; Pine View, meanwhile, could secure some postseason action for the first time since 2010 — a play-in game at the very least.
With the Warriors losing to the Thunder, the Panthers took the lead in the battle royale for fourth as they defeated the Flyers, 5-3.
“We got to our goal of six wins,” PV head coach Mike Gargano said. “Now we just need to finish it with one more strong one.”
The Panthers’ win didn’t come easy.
Despite Pine View ace Dakota Donovan striking out 10 of his 13 batters by the fifth inning, the Panthers trailed 2-0 at the top of the sixth.
The Flyers manufactured a run in the third on a delayed double steal. Donovan sniffed out the running attempt and lifted his foot from the rubber, catching Tanner Webster off guard midway between first and second. As Donovan ran down Webster, Chris Petrosie was sent home from third. Donovan’s throw home was close, and Petrosie appeared to be tagged out, but beyond the dust, the ball lay in the dirt.
The very next pitch from Donovan to Chance Aplanalp, the following batter, was real high and real tight, and Aplanalp didn’t like it.
“I got frustrated,” Donovan said. “I wasn’t going at him by any means. I got a little frustrated, decided to go up there and let one go and get a little frustration out, and it happened to tail and run in a little bit, but I got that one out of the way and dialed back in and did what I could.”
Donovan and Aplanalp exchanged salutations, and the home plate umpire received visits from both head coaches before play resumed.
“He mouthed some words that probably shouldn’t be said here,” Donovan said, regarding the exchange that saw the pitcher wave Aplanalp toward him.
Donovan struck him out, but Aplanalp countered in the fourth, as he singled, stole second, found third on a passed ball and then crossed the plate on another passed ball, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
The play ruled as a passed ball was one of many controversies on the night, as the Pine View crowd behind home plate cried out that the ball had ricocheted off Collin Hutchings’ bat.
The Panthers (6-5,11-9) remained scoreless through four, due in large part to Dixie shortstop Drew Bailey. In the third, Bailey caught Dylan Draper running from second to third on a fielder’s choice, giving up first base and opting to get the lead runner. In the same inning, Bailey ended the inning with a highlight-reel leap to grab a line drive with runners on the corners.
“Their shortstop,” Gargano said, “Oh my gosh, unbelievable plays all night. I’m impressed.”
But in the top of the fifth, Hunter Hansen singled, Donovan singled, and both advanced on a past ball. With first open, Flyers starter Gavin Graff intentionally walked Brooks Barney. Kash Walker followed up with an RBI single, Harrison Goebel pinched hit for an RBI single, Draper (3 for 4) did the same with his first pitch and Parker Leavitt batted one run in to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead.
“We came in and talked about (how) we had a lack of focus,” Draper said. “We weren’t really going up there with a purpose at the plate. Our coach told us to go up there and jump on (Graff) early because that’s when he’d give us the fastball, so we just capitalized on it and got some hits, and everyone was calm and focused.”
The Panthers scored one more run in the top of the sixth when Logan LaFemina scored on a passed ball.
Donovan continued to dominate, striking out two in the sixth and getting his 13th K to end the game.
“I had all my pitches. I had them under control, a lot of fastball, slider, curve, changeups here and there, but mostly sliders and curves.
“I wasn’t too worried the whole game. I mean I have confidence in our whole team. I knew we were going to come and score at least three or four runs in this game. I wasn’t too worried, but when it finally happens, there’s no better feeling.”
The Panthers host the Flyers Friday at 7 p.m., with a chance to tie for second or fourth, depending upon outcomes around the region.
REDMEN 11, TIGERS 4: Cedar only managed to score in two innings Tuesday, but that was more than enough for the Redmen, as they topped Hurricane, 11-4.
Kayden Lunt picked up the win on the mound for the Redmen and Josh Boyer, Brock Esplin and Treyson Esplin all recorded doubles at the plate for Cedar, which tallied 10 hits on the night. Cody LeBaron did all he could for the Tigers, tallyig a double and a triple, but Hurricane only managed four runs on eight hits in the loss.
THUNDER 3, WARRIORS 1: No details reported.