ST. GEORGE — It wasn't a barnburner or a nailbiter. Actually, it was more like a head-scratcher.
A patient Desert Hills team waited for Carbon ace Gage Bigelow to burn himself out, then pounced for 10 runs in the game's final two innings as the Thunder defeated the Dinos 12-3 on Thursday.
Going into the sixth inning, Desert Hills had two runs, two hits and 12 strikeouts. But Bigelow, who was magnificent through those first five innings, lost the strike zone in the sixth inning.
He was pulled for a reliever after giving up three walks, hitting a batter, throwing three wild pitches and allowing five runs. The final blow came on a Mick Jarvis double that pushed the score to 7-3. The Thunder added five more runs off of Carbon relief pitching to put the game away.
The win advances Desert Hills to today's 4:30 p.m. semifinal game against Juan Diego. The Thunder, 11-14, are the uninvited guests at the big dance, having crashed the party with wins over second-seeded Bear River (4-3) and top seeds Delta (4-3) and now Carbon. Desert Hills finished sixth in split-classification Region 9 and got the No. 3 seed by beating out Hurricane by one game.
"We just kept preaching patience, patience, patience," Thunder coach Jerry Beck said. "We thought Bigelow was going to be wild early in the game, but he wasn't. We were hoping if we got his pitch count high we could get him out of there."
Desert Hills pitcher Darwin Johnson provided the counterpoint to Bigelow for the first inning. Johnson kept his team in it by allowing just two runs and five hits through four innings.
But in the bottom of the fifth, Dylan Vogrine laced a two-out double to give the Dinos their first lead of the game at 3-2. Johnson closed out the inning by forcing a pop-out, but the Thunder looked to be in trouble against the nearly unhittable Bigelow.
Caleb Caplin led off the top of the sixth with a walk and went to second on a bunt by Chase Thompson. That's when the game seemed to shift.
Sam Goold hit a routine grounder to second base. But a high throw meant Goold was safe at first and Caplin was standing on third.
A wild pitch then scored Goold to make it 4-3, then a bad pickoff throw to first scored another run for Desert Hills, making it 5-3.
Darian Nielson then walked, followed by Jarvis' double that knocked Clement home and sent Nielson to third. That made it 6-3. Nielson then stole home by timing the lefty pitcher's delivery and sliding in ahead of the tag from Carbon's catcher.
"This is a young team and we are growing up every day," Beck said of his freshmen- and sophomore-laden lineup. "We grew a lot today. But I think they were a little wide-eyed early in the year. Now it's all starting to click."
Caplin was the only Thunder player not to strike out in the game, and six Desert Hills players struck out at least twice. And yet it's the Thunder who will be playing in the winner's bracket today at Dixie State's Bruce Hurst Field.
With the wild pitches walks and hit batsmen, Carbon helped Desert Hills hang in the game early on. The Dinos also committed five errors, helping the Thunder turn the game into a blowout in the late innings.
JUAN DIEGO 4, CANYON VIEW 2: Despite playing on a pristine Bruce Hurst Field, these two teams combined for seven errors. The Soaring Eagle's Ryan Taylor scattered 10 hits and worked out of multiple jams to get the win. Kade Wagner pitched the seventh inning for the save.
Taylor had seven strikeouts.
Canyon View's Jason Holmes kept a potent Juan Diego offense in check and probably should have walked away a winner.
But he and his teammates stranded a dozen runners, including men on second and third in the seventh inning. Canyon View out-hit Juan Diego 10-7.
The Soaring Eagle, 22-4, will continue their defense of the 3A title Friday afternoon against upstart Desert Hills.