Region 9 got us ready for this. We weren't intimidated or scared. We face pitchers every night that throw 86, 88, 90. We just wanted to come out and play our game. —Pine View's Weston Sampson
HURRICANE — Peaking at the right time is a real key to making a state tournament run, and Pine View seems to have chosen the exact right time to get hot.
The Panthers won their fifth and sixth straight games, racking up 29 runs in the process, and moved into the state quarterfinals with an 11-1 win over Spanish Fork and an 18-11 victory over Bear River Saturday.
Catcher Weston Sampson had a monster day, collecting six hits and eight RBIs in the two games, including a three-run homer against the Bears.
"Region 9 got us ready for this," Sampson said. "We weren't intimidated or scared. We face pitchers every night that throw 86, 88, 90. We just wanted to come out and play our game."
The pod was supposed to be hosted by Spanish Fork, but, with the storm moving in, it was decided early to move the games to Hurricane and Pine View. The Panthers played the No. 1-seeded Dons in the early game at Hurricane and came out smoking, scoring three runs in the first, three in the third and five in the fifth. Spanish Fork plated a run in the bottom of the fifth, but couldn't get a second one home to avoid the 10-run mercy rule.
"Are we surprised we 10-runned them? Yeah," Pine View coach Glen MacLellan said. "But we're not surprised we won. With Tanner Staheli on the mound, we feel like we can beat anybody. And our offense is really coming together."
Staheli pitched 4.2 innings, and Cody Riddle came on and recorded the final out to end the game early via the mercy rule. The Dons left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.
"We've been working hard at getting better on offense," Pine View's Luke Green said. "Hard work pays off. Today we saw that."
Against Bear River, Pine View threatened to end the game early via the mercy rule once again. The Panthers scored 10 runs in the second inning, with Sampson singling home the first run with one out and then coming around a second time and capping the rally with a three-run bomb.
The lead ballooned to 12-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth after a couple of Bear errors. But Bear River showed heart in the bottom of the fourth, with Jake Dahle rocking a grand slam as part of a six-run rally that cut it to 12-7.
"Bear River is a scrappy team," MacLellan said. "We really thought we had this one heading to the mercy rule, but they kept fighting back. They showed a lot of heart."
Again, Pine View spread the lead out, scoring five runs in the top of the fifth to make it 17-7. The rally included five singles, one of those by Sampson for his fifth RBI of the game.
But the Bears avoided the mercy rule once again in the bottom of the fifth by scoring four runs of their own, making it 17-11. Bear River's bats finally quieted down when Pine View brought in reliever Green, who allowed no runs the final 2.1 innings of the game.
"We actually had Riddle ready to come back in, but Luke Green pitched so well that we didn't need to make the switch," MacLellan said. "He restored some sanity to the game."
All totaled, the carnage from Pine View's offensive wrecking ball read like this: 29 runs, 29 hits, 44 safe base runners, and a team batting average of .446 on the day (29 for 65).
Roman Lafemina was 5-8 on the day, Sampson was 6-9 and Dawson Staheli was a perfect 6-6 with five runs scored and four RBIs.
"I like the way we're swinging it right now," MacLellan said. "It's important to get hot at the right time and hopefully we can keep this going."
The Panthers, 17-7, play region rival Dixie at 11 a.m. at Dixie State University's Hurst Field Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the first 4A quarterfinal. Dixie beat Lehi 10-1 and defeated Park City 4-0.
Andy Griffin is a southern Utah broadcaster and sports writer and has been involved in covering sports in Utah, including professional, college and high school sports, since 1989. Andy is the sports editor at STGNews.com.