Every pitch that Riley Gates delivered from the mound was meant to answer the singular question.
Was the Snow Canyon ace going to be the victor or the villain?
Whether he worked his two- or four-seamed fastball, curve or changeup, Gates approached every moment of every game as an opportunity to put the Warriors up. His efforts during the 2013 season not only racked up 114 strikeouts and an 0.92 ERA, but Gates' dominance earned the Warriors their second consecutive Class 3A state championship.
"He has the work ethic that we expect from our guys," Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist said. "What he does on and off the field makes the difference making him a special player that I am going to miss coaching."
The road to the state championship was rough, but Gates' leadership proved to be the difference. Snow Canyon had to battle through the losers bracket after falling to Desert Hills. The Warriors responded by ousting Spanish Fork before beating Desert Hills in the first game of the championship round, 16-6, to force a winner-take-all final.
"Our team is expected to play ball," Gates said. "We had to fight through adversity and remind ourselves that it is never easy, but we've been here before."
The Warriors won the second game 7-1 to defend their state title.
"It was surreal, absolutely surreal," Gates said. "I'm proud to have been on a team that worked so hard and never gave up, even when our backs were against the wall."
Gates was equally effective at the plate. He hit for power with a .431 average with three home runs, eight doubles and 41 hits. He'll report to BYU following his LDS mission to Argentina, and he credits his team for getting him ready for the next stage of his baseball career.
"We wanted to prove something bigger than ourselves," Gates said. "We wanted to not just play good baseball but do it the right way. I'm glad that we were able to go out on top."