After just one inning, Park City’s dugout knew they were seeing something special in Desert Hills’ Dylan File.
So at the start of the second inning, two Miner reserves scurried into the stands behind home plate with a radar gun to measure the Thunder hurler’s speed.
When the radar gun read 92, the two Miner players whispered nervously to each other. They knew the Miners were in trouble.
Indeed, about 40 feet in front of that radar, the Miners’ bats wilted in File’s heat. File struck out the side that inning — part of a stretch in which he fanned five in a row — en route to giving Desert Hills an 8-2 win in the second round of the state 3A baseball playoffs.
“Usually, 91 is about as high as I get,” File said, “but I felt really good today. Pounding the ball in there is all I try to do and rely on my team behind me.”
The Thunder downed Richfield 12-2 in the first round earlier in the day and will advance to play region rival Pine View at 11 a.m. Thursday at UVU in the winners bracket semifinals.
Pine View finished fourth in Region 9, but Desert Hills coach Jerry Beck was not surprised to see his team would be matching up against the Panthers.
“I thought we (Region 9) would get three or four of the four spots in the winners bracket, the way this region’s been playing,” Beck said. “But with the way Cedar and Canyon View have been playing, they’ll make some noise in the losers’ bracket.”
For his part, File is excited for another chance against the Panthers who beat the Thunder 6-4 in their last meeting behind a strong out from Dakota Donovan.
“I want them to throw Dakota again,” File said. “He got the best of us the first time, but no better place to put him in his place (than state).”
Last season, the Thunder went undefeated in region and the winner’s bracket, only to drop two straight against Snow Canyon in the championship game.
“Unfinished business,” said File. “There’s other way to put it than unfinished business. With Snow Canyon out, we know there’s going to be a new state champion. We’re hoping it will be us.”
Desert Hills had a rocky start against the Miners, as the Miners loaded the bases in the first courtesy of two Thunder errors. File struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam, starting a stretch in which File retired 10 straight hitters.
The Thunder then took control with a four-run first inning, keyed by Brayson Hurdsman’s line-hugging triple to right that plated Evan Moss.
“He had thrown me a fastball for a strike earlier, and when he got behind in the count, I knew he would go back to it,” Hurdsman said. “He threw that fastball, and I tried to make the most of it.”
File’s RBI double and Klay Gardner’s two-run single finished the rally.
In the first game of the day, the Thunder struck for 10 runs in the second inning to cruise to 12-2 victory over Richfield.
Jordan Evans ignited the rally with a leadoff double.
“Jordan Evans leading off that inning with a double for us was huge,” Beck said. “We were a little off in that first inning and score our runs on what they gifted to us. But like I said, Jordan got us going with that double, and hitting is contagious.”
Evan Moss followed with a double of his own to plate Evans.
Then the Thunder took advantage of the Richfield starter Morgan Torgerson’s control problems, as five of the next six batters reached base by either walking or getting hit by a pitch, with three of those occurring with the bases loaded.
Braiden Irvin finished off Torgerson with a 2-run single, and Evans greeted the new Wildcat pitcher with another two-run single. Hursdman and File each got an RBI to cap the rally.
Those would be all the runs Desert Hills ace Baden Powell would need.
“For me personally, it took a lot of pressure off,” Powell said, “but arm also got cold from sitting so long, but my team was there for me defensively.”
With Powell coming off a back injury, the plan was to not have him pitch too many innings.
Hurdsman closed out the game in the fifth, getting out an error-caused jam to end the game in five innings.
“Brayson is a great pitcher,” Powell said. “He has come in and saved me a couple times. He has great stuff and works well under pressure.”