OREM — Soft-spoken Tanner Anderson didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about when reporters wanted to talk to him after Monday’s game at UVU.
In Anderson’s eyes, he’d just gone out and done his job.
Well, Copper Hills is still playing baseball because Anderson did his job exceptionally well. The junior struck out 10 and only allowed four hits as the Grizzlies pulled away from Taylorsville late to secure a 5-0 victory in the 5A elimination game.
“Everything was working. All my pitches were going good,” said Anderson, who said he didn’t try to over think the moment and just went out and had fun.
Anderson’s teammates played great defense behind him, particularly center-fielder Zach Hoffman, and he finally got the run support he needed late.
After five scoreless innings, Copper Hills pulled away with a run in the sixth and then four more in the seventh to advance through the 5A one-loss bracket. It will now face the winner of Jordan-American Fork on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Copper Hills coach John Morgan said he’s not surprised to see his team still playing.
“This year it doesn’t matter who you are. The tradition doesn’t bother us anymore. I’m trying to get our kids to believe in themselves. They’re a really good ball team if they just buy in, which they have here and there throughout the year,” said Morgan.
It took Anderson a few innings to settle in, and he was fortunate not to fall behind early. In the bottom of the first, Kyle Hoffman recorded a one-out single but was then thrown out at home following a double into the gap by Miguel Othon.
Three innings later, Hoffman and Othon again had Taylorsville poised to break the deadlock. After Hoffman singled and then stole second base, Othon ripped a laser to left center that looked like an easy double. Instead, Copper Hills’ Zach Hoffman came racing in to make a shoe-string catch to preserve the 0-0 score.
“He’s been doing that all year. If the ball’s hit in the outfield anymore, I’m like ‘good catch.’ He’s a great ball player, has great speed, tracks the ball well, just a great all around ball player,” said Morgan.
In the sixth, Zach Hoffman helped get Copper Hills on the board as he singled and then scored on a Tanner Johnson double for the 1-0 lead.
An inning later, the floodgates opened for the Grizzlies. After Cody Brumley reached base following a strike-out, Dom Flores singled and then Nick Heath reached safely on a sacrifice bunt to load the bases with no outs.
One batter later, senior Brad Ogden — who was cut from the team his sophomore and junior year — cleared the bases with a double down the right-field line to stretch the lead to 4-0. Ogden quickly scored on a squeeze play by Jordan Keefer to increase the lead to 5-0.
Taylorsville went quietly in the seventh, thanks to another great catch in center by Hoffman and then a pair of strike-outs by Anderson.