DRAPER — Juan Diego, a 3A powerhouse, needed just five innings to dispatch Mountain Crest 10-0, but it wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate. The visiting Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight and posed multiple scoring threats before yielding a decisive five-run fifth inning.
“Mountain Crest is a tough team and this game was a lot tougher than you’d think if you just looked at the score,” said Juan Diego coach Troy Davis. “We got off to a good start, but then sort of slipped a bit and didn’t take advantage of some scoring situations, but we ended strong, so that was encouraging.”
Juan Diego took command early with a four-run first inning, which was highlighted by a two-run double from Easton Withers. Alex Goudac set the tone for the inning with a lead-off triple.
“It was important to get off to a fast start because we’ve struggled a bit doing that early on this season being aggressive in the strike zone,” Davis said. “We strung together some good hits, and it’s obviously great to see your players coming out swinging and aggressive.”
Mountain Crest buckled down from there and allowed just one run until the decisive bottom of the fifth while increasing its offensive production. The problem with the Mustangs' increased production was their inability to cross the plate despite reaching base on a fairly consistent basis.
Mountain Crest’s biggest threat came during the top of the fourth inning as Kaden Lindley laced a pitch from Withers deep to left field with two outs and the bases loaded. The would-be bases-clearing double went foul by mere inches and stunted the comeback bid. On the very next pitch, Withers buckled down and issued a called third-strike.
“Withers is a great player for us and really hit his spots well when he needed to,” Davis said. “He’s a big part of our team and it wasn’t easy for him out there, but he got it done when it mattered.”
Juan Diego poured it on in the bottom of the fifth — scoring five runs on RBI hits from Goudac, Withers, Bear Olsen and Tyler Johnson. Josh Kirch added a sacrifice fly in between the barrage of hits, and the game was called early.
“We really got going there in the fifth inning and got a lot of doubles there,” Davis said. “I think our players started to see the ball better and it was nice to see us end it like that. Withers gave us a great effort pitching, but his pitch count was getting up there, so it was good for us to end it early.”
With the win, Juan Diego improves to 2-3 on the year and will next take on Brighton at home. The Soaring Eagles have taken on the state’s best early in the year, including games against 5A bullies Taylorsville and Bingham.
Expectations are always big for Juan Diego, but Davis believes his team should prove capable of winning the 3A state championship.
“I like how our team is coming together after a bit of a rough start,” Davis said. “3A is going to be tough again this year with great teams like Cedar, Snow Canyon, Spanish Fork and a lot of others. We’re going to have to do things right on both sides of the ball, but I like our progress so far, and today was a good sign for our team and our progress.”