JUNCTION – The Piute High School baseball team started out the year not expecting to hold a state trophy above their heads.
However, Saturday the Thunderbirds capped a perfect peak to their season by taking a 3-1 win over Panguitch for the 1A title.
“What a great bunch of young men and hard workers,” said coach Travas Blood. “We were able to turn it on in the end.”
The season ending game was played on Bruce Hearst Field in St. George.
Taking his spot on the mound, sophomore Gavin Morgan pitched a complete game, picking up 10 strikeouts and allowing five hits.
“He struggled late in the year,” Blood said. “Gavin knew what he had to do, and he let his defense help him.”
The defense caught seven fly balls for outs, while throwing three out at first.
Pitching in the state championship game was nothing new for Morgan, as he did the same thing during last year’s title bout against Wayne County as a freshman.
“It was the same kid, and we knew he could do it,” Blood said.
Panguitch’s first three men got out in the first inning.
Piute’s Wesley Jensen, a senior, swatted out a single, followed by a double by Quade Gleave. With two guys on base, Jonathan Nunez hit a single, driving Jensen and Gleave home, giving Piute a 2-0 edge at the bottom of the first.
In the second inning, Panguitch ended up with a three up, three down scenario.
Raegen Dalton hit the ball, ending up on base for Piute. He eventually made it back home, giving Piute a 3-0 edge.
Piute’s defense remained stingy through the next three innings, allowing just two of Panguitch’s players to get on base.
It wasn’t until the top of the sixth that Panguitch was able to make it on the board.
It was also in the sixth inning that Piute’s Nunez caught a foul ball, which slipped out of the top of his glove. Before it could hit the ground, Nunez snagged it with his other hand, getting the second out of the inning.
In the top of the final inning, it came down to Morgan, who fired off 11 strikes and one ball in the inning. Panguitch’s second man was able to get a single off of him, but Morgan struck out the third and fourth Bobcats.
The game followed a faceoff with Wayne the day prior.
“We had our senior pitcher [Gleave] pitch the last two games,” Blood said. “He is a big part of why we are here.”
Gleave picked off Diamond Ranch Oct. 8, in a 2-7 affair.
He then anchored a 12-0 performance against the Badgers Friday in St. George.
“Wayne is a phenomenal team,” Blood said.
Gleave, who also helped lead the bats against Panguitch with a double, said he was glad to make it with his teammates.
“I’m glad I played with them, I wouldn’t trade them for anyone,” Gleave said.
“A game like that, we didn’t have any superstars,” said senior Weston Sylvester. “It was the definition of a team win.”