Alta spent the regular season beating up on opponents.

The playoffs, though, are clearly a different story. The first piece of evidence is the hard-fought 3-1 victory the Hawks escaped with after meeting Granger as the 5A state tournament began."That's the state playoffs," said Alta coach Mike McNary. "The intensity level goes up to a whole other level. They're all going to be pretty close."

The Hawks managed to pull away from the Lancers thanks to solid pitching from Gentry Beckstead and Seth Johnson. But doing so also came thanks to some timely defensive stands and clutch hitting.

Granger kept the game close with several defensive gems.

In the second inning, Alta was ready to break a scoreless tie as Jeff Perry stroked a bloop single to right. But Granger's outfield came up gunning and threw out Beckstead at third to end a scoring opportunity. That came after Josh Whitmer picked off an Alta base runner who was napping at first.

"That's the best pickoff move I've seen in a long, long time," McNary said. "He gave us some trouble with that. . . . But we shouldn't be surprised by anything we saw from Granger. They're a quality baseball team that would have beaten a lot of teams playing today."

Alta's scoring w again put on hold in the third inning as another outstanding defensive play at short negated the Spencer Perry double earlier in the inning.

Finally, the Hawks broke into the scoring book as Beckstead singled in Darrin Elggren in the fourth.

Granger answered quickly, though, as Whitmer helped himself with an RBI single that scored Scott Shaw. Further Lancer runs were prevented when a long drive to center was caught.

Johnson and Trent Perry put the Hawks on top to stay in the fifth inning. Johnson doubled to the right field gap to score a run, and Perry's grounder slipped through the shortstop's legs to allow the game's final run to score.

"We knew going in that our whole philosophy would have to be as patient as possible," McNary said. "We knew if we waited long enough we'd have a chance to take advantage of a mistake. It was a nail-biter and not the kind of game I'd like to start the playoffs with, but we'll take it."

With the win, the top-ranked Hawks advance to play Davis Wednesday at 4 p.m.