ST. GEORGE — Pressure, pressure, pressure — and then a release.
Panguitch won the 1A Fall Baseball State Championship Saturday and completed a rarity in baseball — a perfect season — with a 15-5 win over Piute at Dixie State's Bruce Hurst Field.
"The pressure of a perfect season really mounted," Bobcats coach Clint Barney said, just seconds before receiving a Gatorade cooler of water over his head, courtesy of several Panguitch team members. "The players didn't want to talk about it. But we felt it. Midway through the season, we had a couple of close games and I almost think it would have been easier on us if we had lost one of those."
Piute came out in the top of the first and jumped on Bobcats starter Dalan Bennett, plating three runs before many of the fans had even started on their nachos.
Zach Allen, Caden Blood, Jaden Coburn and Skyler Perry all singled in the first inning.
Blood then mowed the Bobcats down in order in the bottom of the first and it looked like an upset was brewing.
"I think we came in way too overconfident," Bennett said. "I wasn't pitching very well and just didn't have my best stuff to start with."
Bennett, the 2011 state MVP, gave up a hit in the top of the second as well, but his catcher, freshman Dason Houston, helped him out by gunning down Allen trying to steal second base.
And then things started to shift.
Blood, who pitched a complete game victory against Tabiona Friday, didn't made it out of the second inning, giving up a hit and then walking three batters. The Piute defense also committed an error and Blood hit a batter.
All totaled, the Bobcats scored four runs to take the lead in the bottom of the second. All four were walked in with the bases loaded, including one by relief pitcher Logan Steed.
"I think Blood was out of gas," Barney said. "He pitched a fantastic game yesterday against Tabiona."
Piute answered back with a run in the third to tie the game up at 4-4. Dalton Steed, who had singled, scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by his brother Logan.
But the Bobcats got their offense stoked up in the bottom of the third. Kaden Figgins led off with a single, followed by a walk by Samual Vasquez. Mycrae Tebbs then singled home Figgins to make it 5-4. After a pop out, Houston singled home Vasquez and Tebbs to make it 7-4. Joshua Henrie and Tyce Barneyboth picked up an RBI later in the inning to make it 9-4 and Panguitch was on its way.
"We were pressing at the plate early in the game," said Barney, whose team finishes the year 23-0. "Once we settled down, we started to get to them."
Piute got a run back in the fourth on an RBI by Dalton Steed, but the Bobcats plated six runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game on high school's 10-run mercy rule.
Henrie had two more RBIs in the rally, plating runs No. 14 and 15 on a double with one out.
Troy Bagy crossed the plate with the final run, sparking the second straight championship celebration for Panguitch High School.
"You know, we came out to win a state championship, not have a perfect season," Bennett said. "Looking back, it's a lot better to have both. But we just wanted to win state. It's a great feeling."
Andy Griffin is the sports editor of STGnews.com
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