Region 9 teams looking to follow path of least resistance at state

Dixie High was the 2017 3A state champion, file photo from Dixie vs. Snow Canyon, 3A State Baseball Tournament, Orem, Utah, May 20, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Things have been made easy for the Region 9 teams this year. Well, okay, not easy, but easier.

With the 2018 4A state baseball tournament in St. George, baseball players from Dixie, Snow Canyon, Desert Hills and Pine View can sleep in their own beds, eat some home cooking and generally enjoy a hometown advantage. Heck, they can drive their pickups to the games.

And for three of those four teams, the path of least resistance is still possible.

Staying in the winner’s bracket at state is critical. It means less games, less pressure and less pitching. Dixie, Desert Hills and Pine View (along with Juan Diego) are on that top side of the bracket, which means three consecutive wins would equal a state championship, with no dipping into the JV arms, no three-games-in-one-day, no do-or-die pressure.

Snow Canyon, meanwhile, joins seven other teams already in the one-loss bracket with no margin for error. The Warriors, along with Park City, Spanish Fork, Bear River, Orem, Lehi, Sky View and Salem Hills, must win the rest of their games to become state champions. That’s seven straight over the next four days, in case you’re keeping track.

So let’s take a look at the paths (best or otherwise) it will take teams to get the opportunity to hoist the championship trophy.

4A state tournament winner’s bracket
Dixie Flyers (24-3)

First two rounds – Beat Lehi 10-1; def. Park City 4-0
Path of least resistance – Beat Pine View Wednesday (11 a.m. at Hurst Field), beat Desert Hills-Juan Diego winner Friday (4:30 p.m. at Hurst Field), beat loser’s bracket survivor Saturday in championship (11 a.m.)
Toughest path – Lose to Pine View and have to win two games Thursday (4:30 and 7), one game on Friday (7 p.m. at Hurst) and two games Saturday (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).
Alternate route – Beat Pine View Wednesday, but lose to DH-JD winner Friday (4:30), then have to win elimination game Friday night (7 p.m.) and two games on Saturday (11 and 1).
Outlook – Dixie is the most likely team to take that path of least resistance, having lost only to Snow Canyon among the remaining contestants.

Pine View Panthers (16-7-1)
First two rounds – Beat Spanish Fork 11-1; def. Bear River 18-11
Path of least resistance – Beat Dixie Wednesday (11 a.m. at Hurst Field), beat Desert Hills-Juan Diego winner Friday (4:30 p.m. at Hurst Field), beat loser’s bracket survivor Saturday in championship (11 a.m.)
Toughest path – Lose to Dixie and have to win two games Thursday (4:30 and 7), one game on Friday (7 p.m. at Hurst) and two games Saturday (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).
Alternate route – Beat Dixie Wednesday, but lose to DH-JD winner Friday (4:30), then have to win elimination game Friday night (7 p.m.) and two games on Saturday (11 and 1).
Outlook – Playing their best ball of the season right now, but have a big bear in Dixie blocking the path. Panthers mercy-stunned Spanish Fork and confidence means everything.

Desert Hills Thunder (18-6)
First two rounds – Beat Salem Hills 14-4; def. Sky View 7-0
Path of least resistance – Beat Juan Diego Wednesday (1:30 p.m. at Hurst Field), beat Dixie-Pine View winner Friday (4:30 p.m. at Hurst Field), beat loser’s bracket survivor Saturday in championship (11 a.m.)
Toughest path – Lose to Juan Diego and have to win two games Thursday (1:30 and 7), one game on Friday (7 p.m. at Hurst) and two games Saturday (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).
Alternate route – Beat Juan Diego Wednesday, but lose to Dixie-PV winner Friday (4:30), then have to win elimination game Friday night (7 p.m.) and two games on Saturday (11 and 1).
Outlook – Top four pitchers are solid, so if Thunder can stay in winner’s bracket at least until Friday, they will be tough to beat. And all opponents should beware of red-hot Bronson Andrus.

Juan Diego Soaring Eagle (21-5)
First two rounds – Beat Mt. Crest 8-7; def. Orem 10-2
Path of least resistance – Beat Desert Hills Wednesday (11 a.m. at Hurst Field), beat Dixie-Pine View winner Friday (4:30 p.m. at Hurst Field), beat loser’s bracket survivor Saturday in championship (11 a.m.)
Toughest path – Lose to Desert Hills and have to win two games Thursday (1:30 and 7), one game on Friday (7 p.m. at Hurst) and two games Saturday (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).
Alternate route – Beat Desert Hills Wednesday, but lose to Dixie-PV winner Friday (4:30), then have to win elimination game Friday night (7 p.m.) and two games on Saturday (11 and 1).
Outlook – Lost exactly one game since mid-March, though not exactly blowing mediocre teams away (barely beat Mt. Crest and Ogden). This team can hit (54 doubles this year), but pitching is just meh.

4A state tournament elimination bracket
Only path available to these eight teams is to win, win, win (win, win, win, win)

Orem Tigers (12-15)
First two rounds –
Beat Snow Canyon 6-4; lost to Juan Diego 10-2
Winning path – vs. Lehi Wednesday, 11 a.m. @ PVHS; vs. Sky View-Spanish Fork winner Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 1:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – Basically a one-trick pony (ace pitcher Jamison Finch). Might try and save him for Wednesday’s second game, but that will just delay the inevitable elimination. They need Puka Nacua to play baseball.

Lehi Pioneers (12-13)
First two rounds
– Lost to Dixie 10-1; beat Ridgeline 4-3
Winning path – vs. Orem Wednesday, 11 a.m. @ PVHS; vs. Sky View-Spanish Fork winner Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 1:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m.  @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – Seriously, how are these guys still going? They won two play-in games just to get into the tourney, then surprised Ogden to stay alive. They won’t be around after Wednesday.

Sky View Bobcats (19-5)
First two rounds – Beat Ogden 4-3; Lost to Desert Hills 7-0
Winning path – vs. Spanish Fork Wednesday at 11 a.m. @ Dixie High School; vs. Lehi-Orem winner Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 1:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – The Bobcats won a lot of games, but also lost to non-playoff teams like Green Canyon and Cedar. They also have to deal with the wrath of a Spanish Fork team still fuming about that 10-run loss to Pine View. It’ll be a long drive back to Cache Valley.

Spanish Fork Dons (18-9)
First two rounds – Lost to Pine View 11-1; Beat Tooele 12-2
Winning path – vs. Sky View Wednesday at 11 a.m. @ Dixie High School; vs. Lehi-Orem winner Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 1:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – If the Dons can get their mind right, they’re one of the teams that could survive the hellacious elimination bracket. They have pitching, and hitting. But are they mentally tough enough?

Bear River Bears (16-9)
First two rounds – Beat Toole 9-0; Lost to Pine View 18-11
Winning path – vs. Salem Hills Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. @ Dixie High School; vs. Park City-Snow Canyon winner Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – This team can hit and score (averages eight runs a game, only been shutout once all year). That’s big when it gets deep into the elimination bracket. But they have to get there first.

Salem Hills Skyhawks (18-9)
First two rounds – Lost to Desert Hills 14-4; Beat Ogden 7-0
Winning path – vs. Bear River Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. @ Dixie High School; vs. Park City-Snow Canyon winner Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – Looked good in preseason tourneys down in St. George, but pitching has been inconsistent. That’s a very bad thing when it’s do-or-die.

Park City Miners (20-7)
First two rounds – Beat Ridgeline 3-1; Lost to Dixie 4-0
Winning path – vs. Snow Canyon Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. @ Pine View High School; vs. Bear River-Salem Hills winner Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – Showed a lot in hanging with Dixie in second round, but the road is long in the loser’s bracket, especially when facing the one team that has beaten Dixie in Snow Canyon. Good pitching staff (seven shutouts), but is it good enough?

Snow Canyon Warriors (16-9)
First two rounds – Lost to Orem 6-4; Beat Mt. Crest 9-1
Winning path – vs. Park City Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. @ Pine View High School; vs. Bear River-Salem Hills winner Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hurst Field; elimination game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. @ Hurst; championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. @ Hurst; if necessary game Saturday at 1 p.m. @ Hurst.
Outlook – Along with Spanish Fork, the one team that has big enough guns to shoot its way out of the loser’s bracket. But SC slipped up against Orem and must play perfect baseball from here on out.

How we see itSt. George News projects every outcome of the 4A tournament:
Wednesday
Dixie def. Pine View
Desert Hills def. Juan Diego
Orem eliminates Lehi
Spanish Fork eliminates Sky View
Salem Hills eliminates Bear River
Snow Canyon eliminates Park City
Spanish Fork eliminates Orem
Snow Canyon eliminates Salem Hills
Thursday
Spanish Fork eliminates Juan Diego
Snow Canyon eliminates Pine View
Snow Canyon eliminates Spanish Fork
Friday
Dixie defeats Desert Hills
Desert Hills eliminates Snow Canyon
Saturday
Desert Hills defeats Dixie
Dixie defeats Desert Hills for 4A championship

Wednesday’s schedule of games
11 a.m. – Dixie vs. Pine View (no loss) at Hurst Field
11 a.m. – Orem vs. Lehi (elimination) at PVHS
11 a.m. – Sky View vs. Spanish Fork (elimination) at Dixie HS
1:30 p.m. – Desert Hills vs. Juan Diego (no loss) at Hurst Field
1:30 p.m. – Bear River vs. Salem Hills (elimination) at Dixie HS
1:30 p.m. – Snow Canyon vs. Park City (elimination) at PVHS
4:30 p.m. – Orem/Lehi winner vs. Sky View/Spanish Fork winner (elimination) at Hurst Field
7 p.m. – Bear River/Salem Hills winner vs. Snow Canyon/Park City winner (elimination) at Hurst Field

Thursday’s schedule of games
1:30 p.m. – upper bracket winner vs. Desert Hills/Juan Diego loser (elimination game) at Hurst
4:30 p.m. – lower bracket winner vs. Dixie/Pine View loser (elimination game) at Hurst
7 p.m. – elimination game at Hurst Field

Friday’s schedule of games
4:30 p.m. – 4A semifinal
7 p.m. – elimination game

Saturday’s schedule of games
11 a.m. – 4A championship*
1 p.m. – 4A championship 2 (*if necessary game)

UHSAA 4A bracket

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