SANDY — On paper, you probably couldn't find a bigger mismatch.
With two outs in the seventh inning, two Lone Peak runners on base and Jordan clinging to a one-run lead, the reigning state champion Knights had the advantage.
On one side, you had an undefeated Lone Peak team, ranked No. 1 in the state, ranked No. 10 in the nation by ESPN, and known for late-inning heroics. For Jordan, you had a freshman pitcher entering the game wearing braces with a slight build.
This is why games aren't decided on paper.
Beetdiggers' ninth grader Morgan Gomez calmly came into the intense situation, struck out the one batter he faced and saved Jordan's 13-12 win over the Knights on Tuesday afternoon. Lone Peak was the last unbeaten team in the state.
"They had quality hitters and just yakked the ball the whole game," Gomez said. "I just had to come in and get my job done, get this guy out and win the game."
Gomez made it sound awfully simple, but he had to throw exceptionally well to get the Beetdiggers out of trouble. The Knights took advantage of two Jordan misplays, and Mike Draper and Macay Hunter drove in a run apiece in the top of the seventh to get within 13-12. Lone Peak then put runners on the corners before Gomez was called on to relieve fellow freshman Mason Krueger to put it away.
Gomez struck out Dane Peterson, who was 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs before his final at-bat, to end the game.
"We've never had anyone that could step up as a freshman and close, let alone two people," said Jordan starting pitcher Carson Tilby, who fended off Lone Peak's powerful lineup for five innings. "This team is going to be good down the line."
Jordan is suddenly pretty good at the present moment. The Beetdiggers went through a stretch of losing four of five games before beating Brighton 14-4 on Monday. They kept rolling against Lone Peak.
The Beetdiggers got ahead of the Knights early with five runs in the second inning. Clay Kinahan provided a clutch hit with a two-run single, Tilby helped himself with an RBI single, and Conner Ogden had an RBI fielder's choice. The Beetdiggers took their biggest lead at 11-5 after scoring four runs in the fourth. Freshman Colton Shaver provided most of them when he blasted a three-run homer.
But even with the big lead, Jordan never got comfortable. Lone Peak rallied for six runs in the seventh to beat Pleasant Grove 10-9 last Tuesday. The Knights, in winning their first 11 games, made all the clutch plays at the right moments before facing Jordan.
"All you have to do is read the paper," said Jordan coach Ron Anderson. "They're No. 1, and then you watch them and they're scoring late and they don't give up. We knew we had to keep scoring runs and we did that."8 comments on this story
Mark Krueger, Mason's older brother, came through with one of the game's biggest plays when he ripped a two-run double in the sixth to give the Beetdiggers a 13-10 lead.
"We couldn't be more excited," Anderson said. "Top to bottom, every freshman, sophomore, junior and senior we put in there all did their job."