Orem • The Thunder have won their fair share of games this season by slamming baseballs all over the field. But as Carbon found out Thursday, Desert Hills doesn't need to be slugging well to come out on top.
A 2-0 victory in the winners bracket of the Class 3A state tournament emphasized the Thunder's ability to compete with small-ball tactics. The Region 9 champ, gaining only five hits on the day, combined effective base-running with shutout pitching to keep the Dinos at bay.
"We realize this time of year, every game is going to be a grinder," Thunder coach Jerry Beck said. "We can't rely on blowing teams out every game. Carbon was on a hot streak and came through a tough bracket. But our pitching was outstanding all day."
Baden Powell made the start for Desert Hills and didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, one of three on the day. The Dinos gradually adjusted, targeting his fastballs to get runners in scoring position in each of the last four innings. But Carbon had no follow-up, no plays that scored runners.
Defensively, Powell had a strong field to rely on when his pitches lost a little more zip. He credited his team as much as his arm for helping him keep calm.
"We didn't really have any nerves," he said. "We knew that this game was big, but we didn't let it affect our game plan. We just wanted to come out and play."
The Thunder were efficient with their runners, moving up Kaleb Caplin twice before a Zac Ivie single gave them a 1-0 lead in the fourth. In the next inning, Blake Betts came up with another timely base hit to give Desert Hills a better edge. Dylan File closed it out in the top of the seventh on the mound, finishing with a pair of strikeouts to drop Carbon into the losers bracket.
Desert Hills advanced to the winners bracket final, only one win away from the championship game against Snow Canyon, one of its Region 9 foes.
Desert Hills sneaks past Dinos
• Braden Powell allows only three hits in the start.
• Zac Ivie, Blake Betts record RBI singles. Class 3A state tournament
Friday's games at Utah Valley University
4:30 p.m. • Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills
11 a.m. • Carbon vs. Spanish Fork
1:30 p.m. • Canyon View vs. Dixie