The championship stages of the 5A State Baseball Tournament opened Monday at Salt Lake Community College’s Cate Field with four games taking place in two separate brackets with double elimination.
Today’s first game featured an 8-6 win for Maple Mountain over the Woods Cross Wildcats. The Golden Eagles immediately jumped to a 4-0 lead early in the game and never gave up control despite several brave efforts from the wildcats. Cole Rollins and Benji Horsley were able to pull off a walk and hit the pitch on back-to-back record appearances to load the bases with two races that had already come home. It was then that Josh Crandall had a great basic hit that escaped the left field line that brought in a couple of runs to give the team control.
Woods Cross fought back and scored their six runs by crossing the home plate in each odd round, but the Golden Eagles kept their distance throughout the match. With no one on and two outs at the top of the third, a trip by Toby Studdert provided two extra base hits to score two runs and extend the lead to five. Crandall found himself once again hitting with players in scoring position in the fourth inning, picking up a new two-RBI single to answer back a couple of races that the Wildcats had just scored.
In the final frame, Woods Cross managed to put pressure on Cole Rollins. A seven-pitch double and a nine-pitch single allowed the tiebreaker to get to base with just one out. Rollins refocused and continued to knock out the next two balls, giving Maple Mountain its crucial victory on the opening day of the week-long tournament.
“You have to have a plan and an approach. We wanted pitch in the middle, and he did not miss a foot. If you can do your job, you need to trust the results. He did a fantastic job, he fought his way through, Woods Cross dugout was very loud and energetic, but he did his thing and had a good game for us, “said Maple Mountain coach Gary Miner.
The nightcap saw top-seed Olympus to Orem 1-0 in a pitcher duel between Ashton Johnson and Clayton Burke. Both pitchers went all seven rounds, had eight strikes and combined to allow just four total hits the entire game.
On the way to the top of the sixth round, Orem had not yet recorded a single hit. Sawyer Slade and Taylor Gill were able to pull turns and put a runner in scoring position for Cohen Strickland. Faced with a 1-1 count, Strickland was able to get a line drive to the right field that the Tigers achieved just hits and runs of the game as they pulled off another rebellion.
Bracket 2 was featured in the middle of the day, early in the afternoon Salem Hills fought to a 2-0 win over Farmington behind a complete game ending from Stone Cushing.
Zaylun Fenn hit a sacrificial plane to midfield in the first half, and that race turned out to be enough to win the ball game. The SkyHawks offense had some fights early on. After the sack fly, the two runners were left on, and then Jarret Elmer hit a leading triple in the other, but again Salem Hills could not bring him home.
Cushing knocked out the side to start the game and rarely missed the rest of the way. He ended with eight strikes, four hits were allowed and did not go a single butter in a masterful performance.
Asked what it was like to throw so long with just one run, Cushing said: “When we got a lead this year, it just feels comfortable. I feel comfortable with our team, I feel comfortable with our chances. ”
Farmington’s best chance to score came in the fifth half. A pitch hit, followed by a double and a new pitch hit the bases for Phoenix with their power hits coming to beat. With a 0-1 score, the SkyHawks threw a ball that Elmer rockets back against second baseman Gavin Averett, picking out the potential leading race to end the inning.
Salem Hills added a run into the sixth inning, allowing them to be a little more aggressive in ending the game. They did it and picked up an important victory – it’s really hard to win on Saturday without winning on Monday.
“The best pitching staff is going to win, we’ll have to get more guys stepping up, we like our staff and will just keep coming after that,” said Salem Hills coach Scott Haney.
Spanish Fork picked up an 8-3 upset victory over the Timpanogos in a close game that saw speed change late.
The Mighty Dons drew 3-1 at the top in the fifth round. With two outs and two on, Will Dart hit a flyball to midfield that cut the Timberwolves’ lead in two. Zac Dart went before Easton Romero came to strike. Romero fought back from a 1-2 count, and eventually forced it full. He then took the eighth stroke of the bat deep over the right field wall, turning a deficit by one run to three-lead in the process.
Monday’s results set up an exciting Tuesday as the tournament progresses. Salem Hills takes on Spanish Fork and Orem plays Maple Mountain in the night games while Timpanogos, Farmington, Olympus and Woods Cross take part in the loss in the morning.