St. George • Rylan Anderson wasn’t throwing bullets, but his last pitch was just as good as his first.
The senior pumped his fist as his Gunnison teammates surrounded him, emotions flooding over as the Bulldogs realized they had clinched a berth in the Class 2A baseball championship. With a tight 2-0 victory against Emery on Friday afternoon at Dixie State, only one Saturday morning win separates Gunnison from its first title since 2008.
It took plenty of defensive prowess for the Bulldogs to hold Emery at bay, particularly because they only had three hits themselves.
Said Anderson: Whatever works.
“We were hitting the ball OK, we were just hitting it right to them,” he said. “But it’s nice to pitch when you have a defense behind you like this one.”
Gunnison managed the only offensive output of the game in the top of the second, scoring off Emery’s only error. Pitcher Geren Payne tried to make a play at third after a bunt, but the throw went long, scoring Tyler Harris.
Jarrett White batted in Colby Caldwell in the next at-bat to bring the score to 2-0. And there it stayed.
But Anderson didn’t need any more of a lead to do his work, frustrating the Spartans with his off-speed pitches. He finished with four strikeouts.
The defense was error-free in its execution behind him, showing a knack for picking off lead runners and even catching a few Emery runners trying to take extra bases.
“These guys did what they needed to do,” coach Jared Anderson said. “Especially our two seniors — Rylan and Ty [Bartholomew] — they’ve led us all year. Rylan told me last night, ‘Give me the rock, coach.’”
Payne was solid, limiting the Bulldogs to only three hits, but still took the loss. The Spartans will play Richfield at 9 a.m. Saturday for another shot at Gunnison.
Class 2A baseball
Saturday at Dixie State College
Semifinal • Emery vs. Richfield, 9 a.m.
Final • Gunnison vs. Emery/Richfield winner, 11 a.m.
Richfield 3, Millard 1 • The Eagles found it tough to get runs against the staunch Wildcat defense, stranding 13 runners on base. Richfield pitcher Morgan Torgerson earned the win, and the Wildcats finished the game with a double play.
Richfield 6, San Juan 5 • A five-run first inning helped put the Wildcats up, and a single run in the fifth gave them the edge for good, despite being outhit by the Broncos. Tanner Monroe got the win for Richfield.
Millard 12, Grand 3 • Pitcher Braiden Day put a lid on the Red Devils while the Eagles offense went to work, notching 12 hits in the rout.