Athletic competition is a fascinating spectacle, filled with all kinds of data, numbers, rankings, player stats, team stats, and it’s never more prevalent than in the fabulous game of baseball. We as fans get bored, or jealous maybe, wishing we were playing again, so it leads to predicting who is going to win based off these crazy rankings and incredulous data, and how one batter’s .456 batting percentage off a left-handed pitcher in the rain, on a back-to-back may somehow tell us who is going to come out victorious. Actually, maybe the stats and rankings are there to give us something to talk about in between innings and pitches.
Right to left, photos by Jeremy Houston:
Lefty sophomore Kash Kabonic gets the Win for the Cowboys in the championship game going six and two-thirds innings and only allowing three hits on two runs.
The Cowboys hoist the UHSAA 2A state championship baseball trophy in celebration.
Head coach Craig Brinkerhoff taps Jaxon Riddle on third base after a great RBI hit, extending the Cowboys lead in the championship game.
Senior Waylon White flips his way to victory after the Cowboys defeated the #1 ranked South Sevier Rams in the semi-final game.
Leader Griffin Bone catches the last out at first base as the Cowboys dominate the Rams 10-2 in the championship game on Saturday, May 13, at BYU stadium.
The Cowboys proved rankings don’t matter, because you can’t tell the players on this squad who have put in countless hours of practice in the extended winter, in the heat of the afternoon or the long mornings and evenings that they didn’t have the grit and determination to win it all. You also can’t tell them all the fanaticism behind knowing that the #1 ranked South Sevier Rams were 22-1 on the season, only losing to 3A ranked Juab, as returning 2A-state champions, was going to prevent the #6 ranked Cowboys from believing they had the skills, but most importantly the heart to beat them twice in the state tournament. By only allowing two runs on three hits, and putting up 10 runs on nine hits with no errors in the championship game, the Kanab Cowboys surprised everyone except themselves by winning the 2A-state baseball championship in dominating fashion.
This was the fourth state baseball championship in Kanab’s history, and the first since 2009 when the current coaching staff of Craig Brinkerhoff, Justin Orton and Bryce Hafen were all on the 2009 winning team. The coaches knew what it took to win, but as all coaches know, translating that to players isn’t as easy as it seems. Coach Brinkerhoff said, “Going in as a #6 seed, we knew it was going to be tough. Looking down the bracket, having to face #3 ranked Duschesne Eagles on the road wasn’t going to be easy. They were pitching their #1 pitcher, but Griff was up to the task by taking the Eagles down 1-0 and doing so that we could pitch him against the #2 Enterprise Wolves was huge. The Wolves had our number all season, but we knew we could get them this time, even though we had to face their #1 pitcher too. Everyone stepped up and did their part on defense and offense, they played very well and did what was expected.”
Bone didn’t give up a single run against Duchesne and only allowed two hits, striking out 12, but in a pitching battle, Waylon White and Maddix Baird were able to manage a hit a piece, to help get the one run needed to keep the Cowboys hopes alive. Bone took the mound against the #2 ranked Enterprise Wolves and Cowboys impressive hitting was on display with Sophomore Kash Kabonic smashing a triple, scoring a run on the back of eight hit totals for the Cowboys. Bone also had impressive hitting day, going three for four on the bats, while also earning the win on the mound, allowing five hits, two runs and striking out ten as the Cowboys prevailed over the #2 ranked team 6-2 to continue their march in the playoffs.
The Cowboys then faced off against the #1 ranked South Sevier Rams with both teams showing up at the plate with Sophomore Logan Veater firing up the squad in the second inning by driving in one run on a single. In the fourth inning Cowboys took control by scoring four runs on a triple by Bone scoring three and Kabonic singling, scoring another. The Rams poured on a few runs late to make it close, but Veater pitched a fantastic game and was able to get the win, with Brody Perkins closing it out in the seventh inning as the Cowboys punched their ticket to the championship with a 10-8 victory.
Of the pitching efforts by the young squad, Coach Brinkerhoff said, “Bone, Kabonic, and Veater pitched incredible. They did their jobs, threw strikes and kept every team at bay and within striking distance for us to battle and hit runs in.”
The Rams fell to the losing bracket facing the San Juan Broncos before knocking them and returning to face the rested Cowboys for the showdown on Saturday, May 13, at BYU stadium. Sophomore lefty Kabonic got the start, with Brinkerhoff stating, “We just thought we’d kind of feed the hot hand there. He was starting on Thursday and hitting the ball really well even on Friday, so we just thought what a great opportunity for him to stay hot and put him on the mound for us and see if he closes out for us.”
Kabonic ended up throwing a solid six and one-third innings in the title game, allowing two runs on three hits before reaching his 110-pitch limit in the seventh. At that point, reliever Ryan East came in to retire the final two batters and wrap up Kanab’s 10-2 championship victory. The Cowboys collectively crushed the ball in the top of the sixth inning by breaking open a 3-2 lead to a 10-2 lead by scoring seven runs and all but dashing any comeback hopes for the Rams. With bases loaded Bone smashed a double, scoring two runs when Maddix Baird hit a hard one off the third baseman’s mitt to push the lead to 6-2. Brogun Virostko then got a hold of one, sending it over the second baseman’s head, scoring another. As the rain came pouring down, Kale Glover walked as Jackson Riddle chops one down the third base line to add one more run, and finally Virostko stole home on a passed ball to end it 10-2 for the Cowboys championship run. Coach Brinkerhoff summed up the season by saying, “Very proud of these kids as we faced adversity this year. They’ve bought into winning and now that’s the standard.”