Luna’s walk-off sends Miners to quarterfinals
Brady struck out nine in a complete-game effort
It was a pitchers’ duel in every sense of the term.
Park City’s Ryan Brady and Desert Hills’ Drew Thorpe went pitch for pitch on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the UHSAA 3A state tournament at Park City High School, starting with the opening pitch. In the first inning, Brady didn’t give up a hit. Neither did Thorpe.
Though the back-and-forth pattern didn’t exactly play out the rest of the way, the two pitchers were in control for most of the game. In the end, Brady, who has thrown a no-hitter before this season, pitched the best game he has all year, Head Coach Dave Feasler said. Brady went on to strike out nine while going the distance in Park City’s thrilling 1-0 win over Desert Hills.
“[Brady] had command of the breaking ball and had command of the fastball,” Feasler elaborated. “He mostly pitched outside and off the plate the entire day. Nobody did anything against him. He mixed up speeds very well.”
As good as the pitchers were on Saturday, though, the game came down to the bat of Park City’s Zack Luna. The senior second baseman was up to bat with two outs in the bottom seventh, and with a full count and a man on third, the pressure was on. Thorpe fired a ball toward the strike zone in hopes of sending the game to extra innings, but Luna had other plans.
Barely getting his bat around in time on a surprising breaking ball, Luna made just enough contact with Thorpe’s pitch to send the ball to the right side of the infield. He sprinted toward first base, and once he saw the right fielder mishandle the grounder, Luna cracked a smile as Van Rabe, the runner on third, crossed the plate.
“A million thoughts were going through my head,” Luna said of the moment. “It was just a dream-come-true situation you dream about as a kid. I just really wanted to get the job done for the team.”
His teammates, emotional and elated, all ran out of the dugout to form a dogpile on Luna in the confines of their home field for the last time this season, and for some, their careers.
“I turned around and [my teammates] were all there,” Luna said after he rounded first base. “[My team has] worked so hard all year. They deserve it. It was more for them than it was for me, but it was awesome to do it.”
The walk-off win for the Miners was huge, as it’s never escaped from the opening weekend of the state tournament without a loss (the Miners defeated Morgan in the first round 12-0 earlier on Saturday).
Feasler, who played on the team when he was in high school and won a region title of his own, knows Saturday was a rare feat.
“That’s got to be one of the biggest days in the history of the program,” Feasler said. “That’s the first time that’s ever happened. Both pitchers going at it, pitch for pitch. Walk-off in the seventh inning. That’s got to be one of the better baseball games ever played on that field.”
Next up for the Miners is a quarterfinal date with Pine View, a team that plays in the same region as Desert Hills. Pine View defeated Region 11’s No. 1 seed Bear River 3-1 on Saturday to advance to face the Miners in the winners’ bracket. Pine View defeated Park City 6-5 on March 11, but it’s been more than two months since the contest.
Feasler and company don’t care who is sitting in the opposite dugout, as long as they can play their game. But if the team’s confidence is any sort of indicator of how things will shake out on Thursday afternoon, the Miners are sitting pretty, Luna said.
“We’re feeling on top of the world,” he said. “We can taste it a little bit and we just want to get to that championship game so bad. We’ve got to play a good team in Pine View on Thursday and then we’ll see what happens. But we’re feeling really good about things right now.”
First pitch between Park City and Pine View is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at Brent Brown Ballpark at Utah Valley University.
Please see the Park Record photo gallery for more pictures of Saturday’s games.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.