OREM — Snow Canyon's Riley Gates has proven tough to beat even when he doesn't have his best stuff on the mound.
When he has his best stuff?
Forget about it.
The BYU-bound lefty pitched a complete game 11-strikeout, two-hit clinic against region rival Canyon View in his team's 5-0 winners' bracket semifinal win Thursday at Brent Brown field.
"It's nice to have him out there because there's no doubt about it: what he does for this program is special and BYU is going to get a great kid. There's no doubt about that," said Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist. "He competes and we've been lucky to have him for four years."
It didn't matter what pitch sophomore catcher Brady Sargent called behind the plate. Gates would deliver it on target with movement, speed or whatever the pitch called for.
"He works well with his offspeed," Sargent said. "His curveball is pretty hard to hit. It's fun to catch him because most of the time they aren't making too much contact."
The Snow Canyon battery was aided by a three-run first inning where both players provided RBI singles. Leadoff hitter Chandler Day keyed the inning by taking a lot of pitches from Canyon View ace Zack Brinkerhoff before drawing a 10-pitch walk.
"Those three runs in the top of the first really felt good," Secrist said. "I think Chandler Day really set the tone battling off a lot of pitches when it went 3-2 with the count. When Chandler does stuff like that this team goes."
Brinkerhoff settled down from there and didn't allow another run until the bottom of the fourth when Brenden Truman provided a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-0.
Gates chipped in a 3-for-3 effort from the plate while Sargent provided two hits with both of his at-bats.
With the win Snow Canyon advances to take on Region 9 champion Desert Hills. The Warriors dropped both of their games against the red-hot Thunder this season and are anxious to avenge those losses.
"We want to play Desert Hills (because) they beat us twice in region," Sargent said.
"They get things done and that's the bottom line," Secrist said about his next opponent. "There's not just one superstar, but they have a lot of kids that get things done and that's why they're region champs. It's fun to come up here and be able to play them again and it's going to be a heck of a game."
The Warriors will likely have to make do without Gates from the mound against Desert Hills, but could use him extensively thereafter due to a relatively low pitch count on Thursday.
"He'll be back out there before this thing is over — I know that," Secrist said without providing specifics of when or how Gates will be used from the mound.
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