A strong pitching performance from Braydon Schiess wasn’t quite enough for the Mustangs to extend their winning streak to six.
Snow Canyon was able to capitalize on a couple of pitches in the dirt in the bottom of the second and that proved to be the difference in a 3-1 victory over Mountain Crest in Game 1 of the 4A state baseball championship series on a windy and sometimes rainy Friday at Salt Lake Community College’s Cate Field.
The fifth-seeded Mustangs (23-8) must now defeat the second-seeded Warriors (27-4) twice on Saturday to claim their third state title in program history. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be contested at 11 a.m.
Schiess was able to limit a vaunted Snow Canyon lineup to a pair of singles in six complete innings. The Warriors have batted .365 as a team and have smacked 25 home runs this season, plus three of their players have committed to or signed with Division I college programs.
“We came out and played a good ball game,” MC head coach Stephen Hansen said. “We outplayed them in every aspect of the game except the most important one — the score. Braydon pitched very good, keeping a great hitting lineup in check. We will be back and ready to play tomorrow.”
Unfortunately for Schiess and the Mustangs, two wild pitches and one dropped third strike loomed large in the bottom of the second. The Warriors were able to score twice in that frame and their only hit was an infield single.
Schiess struck out four, walked four and plunked one on what proved to be a challenging day for a pitcher thanks to a constant wind. No. 16 retired 11 straight Snow Canyon batters at one point in the contest.
Likewise, Snow Canyon ace Carston Herman threw a gem for the Region 9 co-champions. The southpaw scattered five hits — all singles — fanned seven, walked one and plunked another.
The Mustangs were able to have some success against Herman in the top of the first as Kolmyn Fougler led off the game with a single to right field and eventually scored on a Nathan Rowley single to right. Mountain Crest stranded a pair of base runners in that inning, plus two more in the fifth. The Mustangs had the tying run at second base in the visitors’ half of the seventh when Herman slammed the door with a strikeout.
Snow Canyon pulled even at 1-1 in the bottom of the first on a two-out RBI single to left field by future BYU player Mason Strong.
In addition to Fougler and Rowley, Dax Roundy, Lance Welch and Hudson Phelps singled for the Mustangs. Phelps, Mountain Crest’s catcher, gunned out future University of Utah player Landon Frei when he was trying to steal second base in the sixth inning.
Both teams sparkled defensively as the Mustangs had one throwing error, while the Warriors played error-free baseball. Both infields made play after play, and Snow Canyon center fielder Luke Anderson — who will showcase his skills at BYU — dove to rob Roundy of a hit. Preston Jones came up with a big catch on the run down the right-field line for Mountain Crest.
It was a quick series opener as it only lasted 90 minutes.