This was the game that always troubled Canyon View.
“Coach was telling us this is the one we always lose,” center fielder Peyton Higgins said.
Not this year. Canyon View beat Richfield 4-3 in the 3A state quarterfinals on Thursday at Kearns High School to set up a semifinal date with Pine View in a battle of the last unbeaten teams in the tournament.
While the game ended up being a defensive battle, early on it looked like it was going to be a slugfest. Richfield came out hitting the ball hard off Canyon View starter Joey Lambeth and plated two runs in the top of the first inning.
The Falcons quickly responded in the bottom of the inning. Cadyn Clark blasted a 2-run shot to tie the game, and Higgins nearly made it back-to-back homers, hitting a ball off the fence for a triple. Jackson Vasi then smacked a single to bring Higgins home and give Canyon View a 3-2 lead.
The three straight hits chased Richfield starter Hunter Gibbons out of the game, and his replacement, Mason Torgersen, came in and cooled off the Canyon View bats. Even with the early offensive burst, the Falcons finished the game with just six hits.
“Cadyn obviously hitting a home run that was big,” Higgins said. “He was just waiting for his pitch and he got it. Same with me. We were just seeing the ball really good that inning. Obviously Torgerson, he’s a pretty good pitcher, he kind of shut us down after that.”
But Lambeth settled down himself and the game turned into a pitcher’s duel.
“I’m sure they were a little nervous,” Canyon View coach Jason Jacobsen said. “I think we settled down good, too. I think our nerves were fine.”
Clark started the Falcons off right and he helped finish the Wildcats off, too. Clark came in for the seventh inning and got the save for Canyon View, but he had some help. Higgins made a highlight-reel catch in center for the second out of the bottom of the seventh, robbing Richfield of an extra base hit.
“He hit it pretty good, but I got pretty good beat on it and just ran for it,” Higgins said. “Got lucky, I guess.”
Clark was then able to induce a ground out to end the game and send the Falcons into the semifinals.
The lack of offense didn’t keep Canyon View from advancing on Thursday, but Jacobsen think his team’s bats are going to have to come alive for the Falcons to keep on playing.
“We still need to find our bats somewhere if we are going to win a few more games,” Jacobsen said. “Somehow we need to find a few more base hits.”
Friday’s semifinal matchup will pit two region champions and former Region 9 rivals against each other.
“That’s going to be fun,” Jacobsen said. “We didn’t get to face those guys this year. They obviously got a really good club. I’m looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.”
Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter, @millerjryan.