Orem • "He'll be back out there before this thing's over I know that."
Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist's words should loom over the rest of the Class 3A baseball state tournament like an avalanche.
It's tough to get between left-handed pitcher Riley Gates and a state championship. Region 9 rival Canyon View knows that after a 5-0 defeat Thursday. The senior had a torrid start, notching 11 strikeouts and allowing only two hits while leading Snow Canyon to the winners bracket final with Desert Hills at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
And he'll be back out on the mound again before this thing is over.
"I got plenty more in the tank, but it was a good feeling," Gates said. "We did what we needed to do."
Gates looked flawless aside from hits by Ryan Sahagun and Jesse Johnson, plus a walk. His curveball had batters shaking their heads in frustration all afternoon.
It was supposed to be a pitchers' duel with Falcons star sophomore Zack Brinkerhoff. But a handful of hits in the bottom of the first, including an RBI single by Gates, gave Snow Canyon some early separation with a 3-0 lead.
The Warriors' offense provided the runs. Gates kept Canyon View swinging at air.
"He still works well with his offspeed," said catcher Brady Sargent, who finished with two hits and an RBI. "His curveball is pretty hard to hit. It's fun to catch him because most of the time they're not making too much contact."
The Warriors managed seven hits off Brinkerhoff, with Gates going 3 for 3 at the plate. A Brenden Truman sacrifice fly in the fourth and an error that scored Brogan Secrist in the fifth gave Snow Canyon insurance to seal the victory.
The team has lost to Desert Hills twice in region play and is prepared for another close contest Friday afternoon. After winning the state title last year, the Warriors are counting on experience to help edge the Thunder in their third meeting.
"They've been there, they've done that," coach Secrist said. "We got off the bus today, and I said, 'You're the defending state champions. Let's go out and play like it.' They're starting to believe."
Gates leads Snow Canyon past the Falcons
• The senior BYU signee records 11 strikeouts in a complete game.
• He also goes 3 for 3 at the plate in the cleanup spot.
• Brady Sargent adds two hits and an RBI.
O Friday at Utah Valley University
4:30 p.m. • Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills
11 a.m. • Carbon vs. Spanish Fork
1:30 p.m. • Canyon View vs. Dixie