OREM — They say it's always difficult to beat a team three straight times. West Ridge Academy found that to be true Monday night.
After losing twice to West Ridge in the regular season, Panguitch jumped out in front early and never let up as the Bobcats came away with a 17-9 win over the Eagles in the semifinals of the 1A state tournament.
The win puts the Bobcats in the 1A championship game Tuesday at 1 p.m. against Wayne who beat Tabiona earlier in the evening.
"We had a lot of confidence coming into this game," said Panguitch coach Clint Barney despite the two early losses to West Ridge. "We play in a region where every game is tough. I don't think it's a luxury that West Ridge has. In Region 20 every game is a battle and I think we progressed nicely through the season and had an opportunity to peak at the end."
The key inning was the top of the second when Panguitch came up to bat trailing 2-1. The Bobcats led off with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Cory Long and Jory Owens both hit ground balls that were misplayed, resulting in four runs. Another run scored on a passed ball with the bases loaded followed by a Kaden Figgins base hit to center that scored two more.
The Bobcats came out of the inning with an 8-2 lead, which they wouldn't relinquish.
Dalan Bennett pitched a complete game for the Bobcats and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed.
"Dalan Bennett gutted up. He threw a lot of pitches," said Barney. "He had a hard time getting ahead of batters, but he was going to stay out there until his arm fell off."
The Bobcats tacked on five more runs in the third off Lincoln Manning, the Eagles second pitcher of the day. The runs came off an Owens single, a Tyce Barney triple, and a Brandon Birch single, which put Panguitch ahead 13-5.
There was a point in the bottom of the sixth inning where the momentum started to shift West Ridge's way despite trailing 17-9. However, with one man on, Joseph Bresnahan crushed a shot to right field where Long tracked it down and then doubled off David Wood who was trying to take second on the deep fly ball.
"Remarkably Cory gets a great jump on balls for a kid who hasn't played a whole lot of baseball," said Barney. "He made a couple of great catches tonight. One where he even fell down and got back up and made the catch."
Panguitch improved its record to 16-4 on the season while West Ridge finished the season at 13-5.
In the first semifinal, Wayne defeated the Tigers 14-2 and will advance to the championship game on Tuesday. Taylor Albrecht threw a complete game for the Badgers surrendering only one hit. Despite scoring 14 runs, the Badgers only had six hits as they took advantage of a lack of control by the Tabiona pitchers.
Tabiona finished the season with a 15-4 record while Wayne improved to 17-4.