The No. 21-ranked Dixie State Trailblazers started their PacWest Conference schedule on the right foot. Heading into this weekend's series against Fresno Pacific, DSU went 13-3 to begin its PacWest slate. Most recently, the Trailblazers won consecutive series against two of the elite of the PacWest, taking three of four from Califonia Baptist and sweeping Point Loma.
Setting the tone is junior right-handed ace Dylan File.
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File has been a model of consistency since arriving at Bruce Hurst Field on the St. George, Utah campus. The Arizona native – who fondly remembers attending Game 1 of the 2001 World Series of his beloved Diamondbacks – went 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA en route to PacWest Freshman of the Year honors. He followed that up with a 6-1 sophomore campaign, posting a 2.99 ERA and striking out 74 batters.
His work didn’t go unnoticed. File was the PacWest preseason pitcher of the year, as well as being highlighted amongst Baseball America’s top Division II potential draft picks.
Perhaps it was too much too soon, perhaps it was a bit of self-imposed pressure, but File had a rough start to 2017. He allowed 13 earned runs in his first two outings. He then put together a solid six-game run, going 5-0 and allowing just three runs over 43.1 innings pitched.
“At first, I think I took it wrong and added pressure to myself,” File said. “It kind of showed in my first couple outings. I sat down and spoke to my family, and got my mind straight. I turned it into my motivation.”
Most importantly for the Trailblazers, File has settled in as the ace. He sets the tone for the weekend, often with dominant Friday starts. His past two – against PacWest perennial powerhouses Cal Baptist and Point Loma specifically stand out.
File allowed no earned runs in either start, going the distance in Game 1 of the Point Loma series, the second of two complete game shutouts over File's six-game run. The Trailblazers won both series in dominant fashion and moved up the PacWest standings.
“Oh yea, I love it,” File said. “It’s so much fun. It’s nice to get the weekend rolling and see what that momentum can do. You start off the weekend with a win, the next thing you know we win a double-header the next day and the series is won. It’s fun to see what the guys do with it.”
Dixie State is given the daunting task of playing in the PacWest. Their conference is annually top heavy with some of the best teams in Division II. Should they escape their conference and make it to regionals, a handful of ranked teams – highlighted by Chico State, UC San Diego and Cal Poly Pomona – often await.
While that may make the end goal appear to be impossible at times, File and his teammates have loftier goals.
“We’ve been to regionals the last five years in a row, so nothing short of that,” File said of Trailblazers expectations. “ Every guy in our program came here to compete, wants to take our program to a level it’s never been to. The teams in our conference are top contending teams in the country, but it goes further than that, to the teams in our region, too. You got Cal Poly, you got Chico, San Diego. We know it’s tough, but anything short of the [national championship] is rough for us.”
While File and the pitching staff has been impressive, it certainly helps having one of the most explosive offenses in the PacWest on their side. The Trailblazers currenlty lead the PacWest in batting average, runs scored, and RBI. There are five batters hitting over .400 in the PacWest and three hail from Dixie State: Trey Kamachi, Logan Porter and Tyler Mildenberg.
Well deserved Trey! Congratulations! https://t.co/hsDdbEfVfQ— Dixie State Baseball (@Dixie_Baseball) March 22, 2017
Now, despite injuries to some of their biggest bats and a short-handed pitching staff, the Trailblazers have won back-to-back series against PacWest contenders, keeping pace with Azusa Pacific, who they are destined to close the regular season out against, a series that may very well dictate the PacWest regular season championship.
“I think it shows how special we are,” File said. “We have guys who do a lot. We’ve overcome adversity all year. We had big guys going down, a short pitching staff and we’re still finding ways. With the team we have right now, it just shows how special we are and what we can do when the guys that are out come back.”
As File continues to work out the kinks in his four-pitch arsenal – consisting of a low-90s fastball, a new spike-curve, a changeup and a slider he considers his out pitch – people are taking notice.
While the DII baseball championships are File's top priority, June’s MLB Draft is certainly on his radar.
“Oh yea, what kid doesn’t?” File said of his big league dreams. “It’s always been a dream of mine. My family is on board. That’s all you really need. I feel like I can make it there, and have a pretty good chance. I just got to keep on doing what I’m doing and progress every day and I think it will all work out.”