COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Just about everything imaginable went against the Brighton Bengals on Wednesday afternoon — base-running mistakes, forgetting to touch home plate, and running into each other while trying to catch fly balls, among other factors.
But the Bengals finally stopped shooting themselves in the um, paws, and earned a 5-4 win over rival Alta in eight innings on Wednesday afternoon. The victory avoided what would have been a surprising and demoralizing three-game Alta sweep on a day when about only one thing didn't go against the Bengals.
"Yeah, we could have lost the game," Brighton coach Kelcey Kemp said when asked if anything else could have gone wrong.
Thanks to a game-winning single by Alec Olsen, a gutsy pitching performance by Gage Matuszak and clutch hitting in the late innings, the Bengals overcame their mistakes.
Brighton was one strike away from losing in the eighth before Ian Fehlauer tied the game with an RBI single. Chase Howell kept the inning alive with a single, and Olsen won it with a long RBI single of his own to end it.
"It feels pretty good," said Olsen, who dedicated his walk-off single to starting pitcher Chase Nielsen. "It was a good win for us. We battled and we came back, definitely showed some heart."
The Bengals' hearts could have been questioned until they batted in the fifth inning on Wednesday. They had lost three straight games, and Kemp said they were in a funk. But during their fifth-inning at-bat, they found some life and continued fighting during what were, at times, bizarre circumstances.
The game's momentum seemed to change when Howell popped up while leading off the fifth. Alta catcher Braxton Davies and first baseman Ryan Relf collided while catching the ball, and Relf was knocked out cold on the play. Relf did not return to the game and was taken to the hospital as a precautionary move. Alta led 3-0 at the time.
"That woke us up maybe," Kemp said. "Some calls by the officials also got us going, I think. Maybe it clicked that we had to go take a few words to heart and never give up."
Olsen singled after Relf was helped from the field, and Brighton's bats got going. Nick Marz doubled to drive in Olsen, and a second run appeared to score when third baseman Logan McGregor crossed home plate. The problem for the Bengals was that he didn't touch home. He returned to the dugout, and then came back to touch home and was called out.
Well, it wasn't that simple. The umpires, after discussing it for about 10 minutes, called him out and then explained why to Kemp for another five minutes. The call ended the fifth inning.
"I don't understand," said Kemp, who added that it wasn't a close call at the plate as McGregor could have walked home and scored on the play. "That's one I've got to look up and find out what should happen there. It's unfortunate. It's a really weird call."
A sacrifice fly RBI by Fehlauer made it 3-2 in the sixth. Brighton tied it at 3-3 in the seventh when Marz ripped an RBI single. After Marz's hit, two Bengal base runners got picked off the bases to send the game into extra innings.Comment on this story
Alta went ahead 4-3 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly RBI by Mark Cavaness. Matuszak led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple to quickly get Brighton in position to tie it.
Matuszak relieved Nielsen in the sixth and threw three solid innings. He tossed three strikeouts while dealing with what Kemp said was sciatic nerve pain. Kemp pinch ran for him after his triple in the eighth because of Matuszak's back discomfort.
"He was just in so much pain, he really couldn't stand," Kemp said. "That kind of performance in that kind of pain is remarkable."