ST. GEORGE — Dixie State came away with a split of the final two games of its 2019 season-opening weekend against Saint Martin’s in a Sunday twin bill at Bruce Hurst Field. SMU (1-2) broke through with its first win of the young season with a 5-3 result in the opener, while the Trailblazers (3-1) used a big late-inning rally to salvage the split with a 10-5 victory in the nightcap.
The two teams were originally slated to play the two games in San Bernardino on Saturday and Sunday, but rain forced the two teams to move the games to St. George.
In game one, the Saints opened up a 3-1 fifth-inning lead on a single run in the first, followed by two more runs in the fifth on a Kahi Hirano double, who later scored on a two-out DSU throwing error. Dixie State matched SMU’s run in the first and had the bases loaded in the fourth, but could not push across the go-ahead run.
The Trailblazers did, however, pull even with two runs of their own in the home fifth, cashing in on a Saint throwing error for one run, while Bryce Feist tied the game at 3-3 with a two-out RBI single.
Saint Martin’s jumped back on top with a run in the sixth and added an insurance run in the seventh to extend to a two-run cushion. Again Dixie State had a chance to tie or take the lead in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs, but the Saints managed to escape the jam with their lead intact.
DSU had one more chance in the ninth when Tyler Hollow led the frame off with a hit and Lane Pritchard reached on a one-out walk, but Saint reliever Ryan Dorney retired the final two Blazer hitters he faced to close out the game and earn the save.
Dixie State pounded out seven hits in the opener, with Hollow accounting for three of those safeties with two runs scored. Junior lefthander Tevita Gerber struck out four and scattered four hits and three runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings of work in his DSU debut, but did not figure into the decision.
Hirano did not start the game for the Saints, but he did reach in all three of his plate appearances with two walks and two RBI to go with his double. Saint starter Tanner Inouye allowed three unearned runs on five hits with five strikeouts to pick up the win.
Dixie State struck first in the finale with a single run in the first, then after Saint DH Colton Peha connected for a two-run homer in the second, the Trailblazers countered with two runs of their own to reclaim the lead at 3-2 after two innings. Hollow doubled home Pritchard to tie the game, while Brody Clifford brought Hollow around two batters later with a sharp single to left field.
Dixie State would tack on two more runs in the sixth on a two-out, two-run double from Braden Stutzman to extend to a commanding 5-2 advantage. However, the Blazer bullpen and defense could not hold the lead as the Saints took advantage of two crucial errors to score a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to square the game at 5-5.
With two on and two out in the home eighth, Stutzman came up clutch again as the junior catcher laced a double to left field to clear the bases and give DSU a 7-5 lead. Then after a Hollow walk, Alec Flemetakis doubled to the wall in right field to drive in two more runs, and Clifford would cap the five-run outburst with a single to bring Flemetakis around to score.
Junior reliever Brayden Bonner would retire the Saints in order in the ninth to wrap up the Blazers’ third win in four outings on the young season.Comment on this story
DSU outhit Saint Martin’s 11-9 in the finale, with Clifford leading the offense with three hits and two RBI, while Stutzman, Feist and Engel each finished with two hits apiece. Junior righthander Kaivon Kealoha surrendered two runs and six hits with three strikeouts in 5.1 innings in his Trailblazer debut.
Dixie State returns to action this Thursday night at Bruce Hurst Field against Northwest Nazarene at 6 p.m. DSU will also play NNU (11:30 a.m.) and Cal State LA (3 p.m.) on Friday, Feb. 7, followed by a date vs. CSULA on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m.