It's the playoffs and it's always different at state. You're going to get the best from everybody. —Dixie's Tyson Fisher
ST. GEORGE — When Dixie jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning over Pine View, it looked like it was going to be another blowout win for the Flyers. Dixie still got the win, 4-3, but it took a late Tyson Fisher home run and stellar relief pitching from Kayler Yates for the Flyers to advance to the semifinals of the 4A state tournament with Wednesday's win at Bruce Hurst Field.
"It's the playoffs and it's always different at state," Fisher said. "You're going to get the best from everybody. Pine View's a good team. They're scrappy. And they're playing really good right now. We just found a way to fight and stay in it and get the win."
Dixie beat Pine View 10-0 and 8-1 in two games earlier this season. And four batters into Wednesday's playoff game, it was already 3-0 as Fisher hit a two-run homer with one out and Chase Lundin followed that with a solo shot.
"That good start gave us a lot of confidence and I was thinking we were going to run up the score and maybe get a mercy win," Fisher said. "But (Pine View's) Tanner Staheli is a good pitcher and he settled in and kept us off of the scoreboard."
After that initial trouble, Staheli retired 12 of the next 13 Dixie batters. He also helped the Panthers offense get back into the game. Staheli doubled and scored on a Cody Riddle single to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the first.
It was the same score in the bottom of the fourth when Pine View was able to rally and tie the game. With one out, Weston Sampson and Luke Green drew walks off of Fisher. A double steal put runners at second and third.
Porter Dombrowski then hit a hot shot to third that was fielded by Hobbs Nyberg. He tried to cut down the lead runner at the plate, but the throw was wide, allowing both base runners to score, making it 3-3.
With the score still tied in the top of the sixth, Fisher led off the inning by taking the first pitch for a ball, then sent the second one deep over the left field fence.
"The kid's going to hit the ball hard everytime up," Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. "That really puts the defense on edge, and that's something we've worked on this year and is really important for us. He was great for us on Saturday and turned around and was great for us again."
Yates came into the game in relief in the fifth and got in trouble right away, giving up a hit and a walk. But he got a couple of groundouts and picked a man off at second base to come away clean. He then retired six of the next seven Pine View batters to record the win.
"I had mixed emotions coming off the mound," Fisher said. "I wanted to finish the game, but Kayler's a great pitcher and I knew they wanted to get me out so I'd be able to pitch on Saturday. That would be a dream to be able to pitch for a state championship."
Yates ended up throwing three innings of one-hit ball and picked up the win.
"Kayler's been in a position to be our closer the last two seasons and he does a really nice job in that role," Ipson said. "The idea was to win the game and get Tyson out of there so he would be available Saturday."
Dixie, 25-3, advances to the 4A semifinals and will play Juan Diego (21-6) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in the winners bracket. The Soaring Eagle beat Desert Hills 5-1 behind an excellent pitching performance from Cooper Rust.
Dixie and Juan Diego are the only two teams remaining without a loss in the 4A tourney.
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.