ST. GEORGE Pine View's Paden Shelley had been in a slump at the plate lately, so he decided to forget about hitting ... right up until he stepped into the batter's box.
The Panthers senior busted out of his slump by knocking in four runs on a double and a homer and the redhead also pitched a complete game on the mound as Pine View beat Murray 12-4 in the first round of the 4A playoffs Tuesday.
"I didn't even think about hitting today until it was time to grab a bat," Shelley said. "I was just focused on pitching and when it was time to bat, Coach said to just go up there and take some hacks."
Shelley's two-run double in the third inning broke open a close game to make it 5-2. In the fifth inning, Shelley blasted a deep home run into the wind to essentially put the game away and give Pine View a 12-3 lead.
"He has been one of our best hitters all year, but he has struggled the last couple of weeks," Pine View coach Jonathon Howell said. "Today he just competed, at the plate and on the mound."
The two teams seemed to be evenly matched early on, trading the lead several times. But the third inning was a big one for the Panthers as they got to Murray starting pitcher Chase Rezak for six runs in the inning. The rally, which included a two-run homer by Addison Jolley as well as Shelley's big double, put Pine View ahead for good at 8-2.
Murray responded for a run in the top of the fourth on a solo dinger by Chaz Bollwinkle. But the Panthers put any thoughts of a comeback on hold with three stellar defensive plays including a running grab by center fielder Chance Graff.
Pine View then put the game away with four more runs in the fifth inning and the only suspense left was to see if the game would be mercy-rule shortened (it wasn't). The Panthers also got a home run from Justin Ence and doubles off the bats of Ence and Dustin Nielson.
The Spartans old bugaboo, defensive errors, showed up again. After a rough start to the year in which Murray averaged nearly four errors a game through the first 10, Murray had cut that down substantially with only 11 errors in their last 11 games. But Tuesday the Spartans kicked around for four errors, several wild pitches and passed ball and numerous other defensive miscues that simply ended in foul balls.
Pine View, meanwhile, was error free and rode the strong arm and bat of Shelley.
"A lot of people get excited about our big run outputs and that sort of thing," Howell said. "What many people don't notice is our balance. We field it well and we pitch pretty well, too. It's easy to overlook those things, but I don't."
Pine View, 19-4, travels to Mountain View for a second round game today in Orem. The Spartans, 13-10, return home to play host to Bonneville.