Pine View primed to defend state championship

Pine View primed to defend state championship

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Pine View primed to defend state championship

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Pine View won the Region 9 baseball title this season and now turns its attention to defending its 3A state championship. The No. 1 seeded Panthers have been very good all year with Dakota Donovan and Brooks Barney pitching gems each night.

Pine View's Dakota Donovan pitches during Tuesday's 10-inning game between Desert Hills and Pine View. The Panthers went on to win 3-1.

Pine View’s Dakota Donovan pitches during Tuesday’s 10-inning game between Desert Hills and Pine View. The Panthers went on to win 3-1.

They open their title defense Saturday at home at 10 a.m. against Morgan, a No. 4 seed. And there’s a great, big bull’s-eye on their back.

“We can’t expect that teams are just gonna lay down to us ’cause we’re state champs. The only thing it’s gonna do for them is make them want to beat us more,” Logan Lafemina said.

In the playoffs, Donovan said you find out if a team can hit or not.

With games on back-to-back-to-back days, teams have to put kids on the mound who haven’t pitched a lot all season, so if a team can’t hit against an inexperienced pitcher, then it’s over.

PV can’t wait for the playoffs to start.

“The exciting thing for us is we haven’t hit near to our potential yet, so it can only get better,” Donovan said.

Exciting for them, but scary for the rest of the field.

—No. 2 Desert Hills vs. No. 3 Logan, 12:30 p.m. (Canyon View High)—

For the second year in a row, the Thunder was swept by Pine View in the final series of the regular season. And, for the second year in a row, PV won Region 9 because of that sweep.

Desert Hills baseball hosts Pine View Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

Desert Hills baseball hosts Pine View Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

“It’s just fuel to the fire,” catcher Preston Creager said.

But if there was a team whose record wasn’t indicative of how solid it is, it’s Desert Hills.

The Thunder check in at 11-12 overall and 6-4 in Region 9. A look at Desert Hills’ brutal preseason reveals some good wins against 4A playoff squads and close losses against some 5A schools.

Their two main pitchers — Houston commit Brayson Hurdsman and Chad Nelson — are both big reasons for the Thunder’s success on the mound and at the plate.

Trey Winget leads the team with a .368 batting average, two points higher than Nelson’s .366. Hurdsman has three homers, eight doubles and 19 RBI.

Their motivation in the playoffs? The sweep by PV.

“We’ll see them again,” right fielder Chance Milne said. “For sure.”

The Grizzlies have been up-and-down, losing three straight, then winning three straight before losing their regular-season finale.

Desert Hills coach Jerry Beck said he’s familiar with the program, having seen them many times in the past few years in preseason tournaments.

The winner of this game faces the winner of No. 1 Canyon View and No. 4 Union matchup.

—No. 3 Dixie vs. No. 2 Bear River, 10 a.m. (Stansbury High)—

The Flyers have been steady all year. They’re 14-6 after a 6-4 finish in Region 9 and open the playoffs in the Stansbury pod against Bear River.

Dixie baseball holds off Hurricane for a 5-2 victory Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Dixie baseball holds off Hurricane for a 5-2 victory Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Dixie actually beat Bear River 7-4 in the teams’ first preseason tournament, but that was nearly two months ago. Flyers coach Danny Ipson is sure both teams’ approaches will be different this time.

There’s one thing that has undone the Flyers in certain situations: hitting with runners in scoring position. They haven’t done it as well as they would’ve liked and it’s cost them chances for big innings.

“Swinging at everything, trying to do too much, we just gotta take what the pitcher gives us and hit the ball,” sophomore Tyson Fisher said.

Fisher and Trevor Connell have been Dixie’s one-two punch on the mound.

“Our pitching and defense is our strength and once you get into playoff baseball, those close, tight games, that becomes the focal point,” Ipson said.

The Bears are 14-7 and finished second in Region 11 behind Juan Diego. They’ve also been steady and also have good pitching.

If Dixie advances, its next opponent would likely be Stansbury, which beat the Flyers 6-2 earlier this year.

—No. 4 Cedar vs. No. 1 Juan Diego, 10 a.m. (Juan Diego Catholic High)—

What started as a promising season for Cedar quickly went downhill once Region 9 play started.

Part of it can be attributed to the region’s strength, but the Redmen won their last three games and got some help to sneak in as Region 9’s fourth seed.

High School Baseball: Snow Canyon at Cedar, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Final Score: SCHS 13, CHS 2 (5 innings).

High School Baseball: Snow Canyon at Cedar, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Final Score: SCHS 13, CHS 2 (5 innings).

They face No. 1 seed Juan Diego, which soared through Region 11 and is one of the prime challengers for the title.

It’s hard to write Cedar off with players like Rykker Tom and Drake Lewis in the lineup.

Tom leads the team with a .437 batting average, four home runs, three triples and 31 hits. Lewis isn’t far behind with a .429 average, but has a team-high 25 RBI and nine doubles.

Along with Treyson Esplin and Kyler Carrizosa, the Redmen will need the whole lineup to come alive as their pitching hasn’t been quite as strong.

The winner of this game faces either Park City or Carbon.

Follow Patrick Carr on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickjosephcarr1. Keep up with prep sports coverage on social media using the hashtag #region9preps.

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