ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State baseball program said goodbye to 14 seniors in their final season home game against Academy of Art University Saturday afternoon. After a slow start, the Trailblazers prevailed 6-2 to sweep the series against the Urban Knights.
“(AAU) pitched a guy who had not thrown much this year,” said Dixie State head coach Chris Pfatenhauer. “Through the first part of the ball game, we discussed it and knew that he would go the distance. We knew it was a matter of time before he wore down.”
In the bottom of the seventh, the first two DSU batters flew out. But then the Blazers hit three consecutive singles, with the last scoring Drew McLaughlin. Porter then drew a walk to load the bases. Tyler Mildenberg then singled to right field, scoring Trey Kamachi and Tyler Baker.
At that point, the Urban Knights made their pitching change and got out of the inning down 4-0. In the eighth, AAU got two runs back on three hits. Catcher Reece Lucero alertly picked off a baserunner at first base to get the second out. The third out came with the next batter on a ground out to shortstop.
In the bottom of the inning, DSU got the two runs back, again with two outs already up on the board. Jerome Hill II started the rally with a single through the right side. McLaughlin then doubled to left. Baker then got a two-RBI single up the middle to put the Trailblazers back up by four.
Tyler Burdett then retired three of the last four batters in the ninth to preserve the win.
Coach Pfatenhauer used four pitchers Saturday. Sean Hardman started and went three innings, allowing only one hit and striking out five. Preston Hannay came on in relief and pitched through the seventh inning, picking up the win (3-2), allowing only one hit and striking out three.
“”Sean Hardman has not pitched a lot this year due to injury,” said Pfatenhauer. “We started him intending to limit his pitch count to 50. After three innings he was at 38 and it was a good time to make the change. He and Preston Hannay combined to give us a good start today.”
The Trailblazers sit squarely in second place in the Pacific West Conference at 18-6, one game back of Azusa Pacific and 2 ½ games in front of Cal Baptist. Dixie State will now play their remaining 12 games on the road. They have two doubleheaders on their Hawaii trip against UH-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific. They will finish the season with a showdown between conference leaders at Azusa Pacific.
“Two years ago, we were 7-1 in Hawaii and we were playing very good baseball,” said Pfatenhauer. “We will have to come out of there with two series wins to keep pace with the other top conference teams.”
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