WEST JORDAN — It's not always easy to score three runs on two hits.
It's even less easy to win a state championship-caliber baseball game that way.
But when a pitcher is dealing like Snow Canyon's Carston Herman was Friday afternoon, it becomes a little bit easier.
Herman limited Mountain Crest to one run in leading the Warriors to a 3-1 win in the first game of the best-of-three series in the Class 4A state championship at Cate Field at Salt Lake Community College.
"He was freaking dialed in," said Herman's battery mate Mason Strong, who drove in a run. "He gave up that run in the first inning, and I knew they weren't scoring again. I've been around him for a while, and I could just tell.
"It's just like poetry in motion. We've been doing it ever since we were younger, and to have it be like that in the last game, it was unbelievable."
The Mustangs (23-8) struck first through Nathan Rowley's RBI single in the top of the first. But the Warriors (27-4) did all their scoring in the first two innings and on two hits, including Strong's RBI single to score Luke Anderson in the first, and Jackson Ence's go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the second.
"I knew I needed to get Carston a run," Strong said. "I just needed to put the ball in play, and hopefully it dropped in."
That was all they needed, though, with Herman on the mound.
The senior hurler had arguably his best game in a Snow Canyon uniform in what will be his final game at pitcher, scattering five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in a complete-game effort that lasted less than two hours.
He got some help from his defense, too. At one point, Herman retired 10 consecutive hitters through the middle innings. After struggling in his last four starts (by his own admission), the senior pitcher/outfielder had his swagger back — and what a time to get it.
"It's always been there. I just didn't want to let it overpower me," he said with a grin. "But I knew this was my last game pitching in an SC uniform, and I didn't want to hold anything back.
"Once we tied it, I knew this was all we needed. It was go-time from here."
Alongside Strong, who had one of those hits and an RBI at the plate, the duo did just enough to shut down the Mustangs' offense. For a team that was one of the last to play a baseball game in 2020 prior to the spring season shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday's game felt like a championship after surviving Region 9 rival Dixie twice and a 6-0 win over Ridgeline.
"This team hasn't seen me before, so I knew it would be a lot harder hitting the first time around," Herman said of Mountain Crest. "And then I just treated it like playing catch with Mason. This was the last time I'll throw to that kid, so I've got to make it count."
Kolmyn Foulger scored the lone run in the first inning for the Mustangs, who must take two Saturday to clinch the state title.
"They're obviously trying to figure out how to win two games tomorrow, and we're trying to figure out how to win one. We're happy, not down in the dumps, we're excited going in tomorrow," Secrist said. "I've been there, though. I've been on this side, too."
In 2011, Secrist led the Warriors into a similar scenario in the state tournament — and Spanish Fork came back and beat them twice in one day for the 4A state title.
"It can be done," he said. "We've got to make sure we keep doing what we're doing, whether that's throwing strikes and playing great defense — or smashing the ball.
"I'll take two hits and a win, any day."
Braydon Schiess scattered just two hits with three strikeouts and four walks for Mountain Crest.