The Wasatch baseball team wanted to prove it was better than the poor performance it had in its first game of the Vivant Orem Tiger Baseball Classic. The Wasps did so with a 13-9 win over Timpanogos on Thursday afternoon in Orem.
The victory gave the Wasps a 2-1 record in the inaugural tournament and a shot at the championship Saturday night at Brent Brown Park at Utah Valley University.
Wasatch lost the first game 10-2 on its home field to Orem on Tuesday. Then, rainy weather in Heber on Wednesday afternoon forced the Wasps to give up their second home game and instead travel to Payson. That was fine with Wasatch as it drubbed Payson 9-0, evening up its tournament record and setting up Thursday’s game at Timpanogos.
The Wasps started junior Casey Peterson on the mound. The big right-hander had a spotless first inning, but surrendered a run to the Timberwolves in the bottom of the second. Wasatch would take the lead after Tag Baxter singled in a pair of runs in the top of the third.
The home team broke out with five runs on six hits, including a triple followed by a three-run home run by Timpanogos senior, Tanner Nielson, reclaiming the lead 6-2. Wasatch stayed focused however and answered with a couple of bombs of their own.
Left fielder Tate Berg smacked a solo shot to lead off the inning for Wasatch and Kyle Kelly, who had four hits, hit a first-pitch one run shot. The visitors put up three runs in the inning to tighten the score at 6-5.
The Timberwolves would add another run in the bottom of the fifth before Wasatch would take control of the game with a six run outburst in the top of the sixth. It started with a walk to Todd Ogilvie, then an infield single by Jaxson Hermanson. A bad throw to first base allowed the runners to move to second and third. Peterson then helped himself with a two-run single knotting the score at 7. Kasey Stevens, who had three singles in the game, found his way on base during the onslaught. Two batters later and still no outs for Wasatch, Baxter came through a second time and knocked in a pair of runs with a single.
Before the dust had settled, the visitors had an 11-7 lead and all the momentum.
Wasatch head coach Mike Shoell replaced Peterson with Austen Cloward and the heavy hitting shortstop induced three infield groundouts.
The Wasps would add a couple of insurance runs after again loading the bases, taking a 13-7 lead after Cloward’s RBI single. The senior was unable to get the three outs Wasatch needed from the mound, however, as Timpanogos mounted a brief comeback, adding two runs.
Shoell replaced Cloward with one out in favor of Kolten Post and the hard throwing junior struck out the last two Timberwolves to give Wasatch the satisfying 13-9 victory.
“Last night (Wednesday) was about one of our best all-around team performances so far this year,“ said Shoell. “Today (Thursday), though, might’ve topped that,” he added. “Kyle Kelly pitched such a great game against Payson yesterday, I think it probably helped Casey step it up a notch today,” the skipper added. “I’m real proud of the way we played today. A good complete game.”
Baxter, who knocked in four runs with two hits adding to his three singles against Payson the night before, said his team is playing like he knew they could. “We’re getting more patient at the plate with each game,” he said. “We’re not getting ourselves out like we have in some games. The Orem game was just a bad day — not us at all,” he added. “I'm happy with the way our pitchers are coming together. They’re getting comfortable and not over thinking things. I like that.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and is a contributor to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org