OREM — It was the biggest start of his life, but you wouldn't have known with how Desert Hills ace Baden Powell went about his business.
From his very first pitch to his final out, the junior hurler was calm, collected and, most of all, extremely effective in the Thunder's 2-0 win over Carbon Thursday at Utah Valley University. The win advances Desert Hills to the winners' bracket semifinals where it will take on region rival Snow Canyon.
"I don't know why, but I seriously wasn't nervous at all out there," Powell said. "I knew I had a great defense behind me, guys that could pick me up at the plate — there wasn't any real reason to be nervous, and I wasn't."
Powell didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning while keeping Carbon runners from reaching third base throughout his six-inning effort. Altogether he allowed just three hits, struck out six and kept the ball low in the strike zone, forcing a bevy of easy ground-outs.
Behind him his defense was flawless that finished the game without a single error.
"That's Desert Hills baseball. That's how we like to get it done," said Thunder coach Jerry Beck. "It wasn't anything real flashy and we just grinded out two runs, which was enough. Carbon has a great team and I thought their pitcher pitched a great game, and we were fortunate to come out on top."
The Thunder struck again in the fifth when Blake Betts laced a pitch to left field to give his team a 2-0 lead. Overall, Desert Hills finished with just six hits and two runs, but it was enough.
"We had guys come through doing the small things — advancing runners, putting guys in good situations and fortunately we got it done," Beck said. "Baden Powell was tough like he's been all year and we've relied on our defense to get it done and hold the lead."
Desert Hills entered the state tournament with a 12-0 record in a very tough Region 9, not having dropped an in-state game since March 15 when Layton squeezed past it, 3-2. It's been a great ride for the Thunder with no plans of ending it short of a state championship.
"We're feeling great right now as a team," Powell said. "Everyone has worked so hard to get us to this spot and now we just need to keep it going. This was a great game, but we need to be just as good again to win our next game."
Desert Hills Snow Canyon will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Brent Brown Field on UVU's campus.
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