Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
KAYSVILLE — You can only keep a good team down for so long.
And make no mistake about it — the Cavemen of American Fork are a mighty good baseball team.
So, after struggling to solve Davis High starter Tyler Hall for five innings, American Fork broke through with a four-run outburst in the sixth and junior right-hander Riley Ottesen scattered four hits in a superb complete-game performance to give the Cavemen a 4-1 victory over the Darts in Wednesday's second-round action of the 5A state tournament.
"It was definitely nerve-wracking," Ottesen, who had three base hits of his own, said of seeing his team get handcuffed by Hall over the first five innings. "But we have a lot of good team chemistry; we work well together as a team, so I wasn't too worried.
"The sixth inning, I just had a feeling something would happen, and a couple of sparks here and there led to another thing and that led to a run, and then it just carried on throughout the team. It was a team effort for sure."
With the win, second-ranked American Fork (22-5) advances to the championship quarterfinals next Tuesday at Salt Lake Community College, where the Cavemen will clash with Jordan at 4:30 p.m.
"It feels good to be one of the four teams left that's undefeated," Cavemen coach Jarod Ingersoll said. "We thought we'd be here — no disrespect to anybody else — but it's kind of a goal of ours and the plan, and it feels good to be here. We hope we can have a couple of good practices and get after some guys next week."
Region 1 champion Davis (20-4), with only its second loss in its last 13 games, drops into the second-round losers' bracket and will face Riverton on Monday evening at SLCC.
Ottesen (7-1), who finished with 10 strikeouts and just two walks, gave up two hits, a walk and his only run of the day in the first inning. After the Darts' Bronsen Larsen drew a two-out walk, Carson Beyer sliced a single down the right-field line and Corby Fuhriman dropped a single into shallow left to bring home the only Davis run of the day.
"The first couple of innings, I tried to overthrow," said Ottesen, who didn't allow a runner past first base after the first inning and retired 18 of the final 21 batters he faced. "Then I started to realize I just needed to calm down, relax, throw strikes and let them get themselves out. I thought I had a pretty good day.
"I definitely relaxed a lot more and just try to find my tempo, try to find my groove. I realize that my defense is behind me, and the defense just keeps me mentally in it. I just try to give all the batters, let 'em hit it and let my defense work, and they worked."
In the decisive sixth-inning A.F. rally, Danny Beddes led off with an infield single and was sacrificed to second by Jake Miles. Cade Hill then smacked a run-scoring single to tie it at 1-1, and the Cavemen were just getting started.
Another infield hit by Jeremy Reynolds and a walk to Zac Haws loaded the bases. Hall (6-1) got the next batter to ground into a forceout at home and was one out away from avoiding further damage, but leadoff hitter Morgan Flinders, who had grounded out in each of his first three times up to bat, ripped a two-run single into right-center field to make it 3-1. Ottesen then drilled a line drive off the third baseman's glove to bring home the fourth A.F. run.
"Their pitcher did a good job of keeping us off-balance early on. He did a real good job against us," said Ingersoll. "We finally got the runs when we needed 'em. I would attribute that to us getting bunts down and just playing a little small ball. Once we were able to do that, we kind of loosened up a little bit.
"Cade (Hill) had a great hit to tie it up and then Mo Flinders came up — it seems like he just needs guys on and two outs for him to come through. He's done that a ton; it was a big hit and he has that kind of mentality.
"You can't say enough about our pitching, either — Riley was awesome. Our defense stood tall today, so I was pretty proud of the guys," Ingersoll said. "Riley's been really solid for us all year. He does a great job controlling the run game; he's quick to the plate. He has two or three good pitches that he can mix in for strikes and he throws hard.
"He can field his position — he's a full package out there on the mound. He did a good job of keeping them off balance, and that's a good hitting team."
And though you can only keep a good team down for so long, Ottesen was certainly able to do it for the full seven innings on Wednesday.