ST. GEORGE — Don't talk to Piute coach Kennedy Sylvester about next year. The Thunderbirds are playing in the 1A baseball championship this year after defeating Tabiona 9-3 in the semifinals at Bruce Hurst Field Friday afternoon.
Even though Sylvester's team has no seniors and just one junior, the coach would rather focus on the present, not the future.
"We are very young, that's true," he said. "I was concerned. We just wanted them to come out and play with confidence and not be intimidated or nervous. For the most part, they came out and executed and did what they were supposed to do."
The Thunderbirds jumped out early by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. But Tabiona quickly grabbed the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second inning off of Piute's Kaden Blood.
"I was pretty nervous when they got ahead," Blood said. "But I knew if we kept them off the scoreboard after that, our offense would come through."
Stetson Clyde had a two-run double in the rally to tie the game. His brother, Bailey, knocked him home with a single moments later to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. Blood got Harley Westerman to ground out to end the threat. He was solid the rest of the game, allowing just one more hit in his complete-game victory.
Meanwhile, Piute had to sweat it out for just two more innings. In the fourth, the T-birds took the lead for good. Quade Fautin led off the inning with a single. A pair of walks loaded the bases and chased the Tabiona starter, Monte Clyde.
Zach Allen then ripped a bases-loaded single, knocking home two to make it 4-3. Another walk loaded the bases and two more runs scored on a Tabiona fielding and throwing error. Jayden Coburn scored the final run of the fourth inning on a wild pitch. When the dust had cleared, the T-birds led 7-3.
Piute added two more runs in the top of the seventh on another Tabiona error and hit by Tanner Gleave.
The Tigers committed seven errors and gave up seven hits to Piute as the T-Bbirds avenged a 6-4 loss from earlier this season.
The win sets up a Piute-Panguitch final tomorrow at 11 a.m. Panguitch has beaten the T-birds three times this season.
"We can't be intimidated," Sylvester said. "Our first two games with them were pretty close. I never felt like we didn't belong on the field with them. We've just got to come out and play our game."
PANGUITCH 12, WEST RIDGE ACADEMY 0: Panguitch earned its way into the 1A championship game in impressive fashion.
Dalan Bennett and Chance Campbell combined to no-hit the Fighting Eagles, who only had two base-runners in the game.
The win continues the amazing season for the Bobcats, who are now 21-0. Panguitch 10-runned West Ridge both times the teams squared off this season.
The championship game is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Dixie State College's Bruce Hurst Field.