The Dixie State baseball team is sitting atop a first place spot in the Pacific West Conference after a successful trip to the Islands of Hawaii.
The team in now 7-1 in PacWest play after winning all but one game over spring break.
Head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said the guys played hard and were resilient.
The Storm played University of Hawaii at Hilo for the first series in Hawaii and came out winning every game.
Senior Donald Glover, an integrated studies major from Las Vegas, said that overall the team played great.
“Playing in Hawaii was a challenge but we worked through it and came out 7-1,” Glover said. “Our goal was to win the series, and we did.”
Defense was in full play in game one for the Storm with the support of starting junior pitcher Porter Clayton. Sophomore Trey Kamachi also lined up an RBI double and later scored off a sacrifice fly from senior infielder Kevin Kline.
Kline, a psychology major from Las Vegas, said traveling to Hawaii is tough for any team, but the team was still on fire.
“Our pitching was dominate, we made huge plays defensively and the biggest part of the trip was timely hitting throughout our lineup,” Kline said.
Junior Tanner Morache had a two-run single he also highlighted a six-run rally in the seventh with two more RBIs, leading the Storm to a 16-3 victory.
The teams played game two differently. It was a battle of the pitchers, which steered the team to a stalemate 1-1 score into the ninth inning.
Dixie State was able to overcome with a base hit from freshman first baseman Cam Gust. Senior infielder Yuto Kata hit a double into left-center, allowing the Storm to score a run in the 2-1 victory.
In the third game, freshman pitcher Aaron Pope allowed a first-inning solo home run and one other run-scoring hit in seven innings. Pope struck out three in his first collegiate victory, 9-2.
In game four of the series against Hilo, freshman pitcher Dylan File allowed just two hits in the seventh-inning finale.
Junior pitcher Jeremy Alderman threw a scoreless frame in the sixth while junior pitcher Kolton Brost followed with a shutdown frame in the seventh to win 5-0.
Alderman, a integrated studies major from Cheney, Washington, said the coaching staff did a great job preparing the team for the trip.
“It’s tough to win games down there, and it was definitely a grind mentally and physically,” Alderman said.
The Storm went on to play Hawaii Pacific University on Saturday and Sunday in another four-game series. The Storm were able to win all but one of these games, the loss ending its 12-game winning streak.
HPU was undefeated in Pacific West conference play as was Dixie State at the beginning of the match-up.
Senior pitcher Chance Abrath began the series-opening win striking out five.
Sophomore infielder Drew McLaughlin led the Storm with three hits against the Sharks in a 5-2 victory.
In game two of the series, Dixie trailed into the seventh inning but soon was able to respond with a two-run lead in the ninth inning.
Kata had the only multi-hit performance for Dixie in the game.
The next day in game three of the four-game series, the Storm never fell behind. Morache went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, and Kata went 3-for-4 with two runs in the 9-4 victory.
In the final game of the series, Dixie was not able to go the distance. HPU held the Storm to five hits in the 8-2 loss.
The Storm returned home and is back to practice as usual preparing for the rest of the season.
“We will continue to do the same things we always do, try to get better every day, pride ourselves in pitching and defense and be a great executing offense,” Pfatenhauer said. “We also get a couple of guys back from injury this week that will help.”
Glover said he is confident in what is to come for the rest of the season.
“This is the way we wanted to start off in conference, and this will give us great momentum into next week versus Holy Names,” Glover said.
The team is currently ranked No. 1 in PacWest Conference play.
“We took care of business and come home to a first place spot in the PacWest,” Alderman said.
Dixie State will return home Saturday for a PacWest doubleheader against Holy Names. First pitch from Bruce Hurst Field is at 4 p.m., and the second game is expected to start at 7 p.m.