HIGHLAND — Region 4 is thought to be one of the more competitive regions in the state, and that was quite apparent Tuesday afternoon in American Fork’s 3-2 extra inning win over Lone Peak.
The Cavemen used some clutch hitting and a superb complete-game effort from senior Austin Pitcher from the mound for the win.
The Knights threatened to take back that run, and perhaps some more in the bottom half of the eighth with runners on first and third with only one out before Jack Bateman grounded into a double-play to end the threat and the ballgame.
Keeping the ball low to force the double-play was Pitcher, who finished the game with around 120 pitches, according to American Fork coach Jared Ingersoll.
“His 120th pitch was as good as his first pitch,” Ingersoll said. “I can’t say enough about him today and how he competed.”
Pitcher's effort wasn't perfect, but effective enough to limit the hot-hitting Knights to just one earned run on six hits.
American Fork started things off quickly with a first-inning run courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Koy Dibb. Lone Peak pitcher Grant Lyman settled down from that point and didn't allow another run until the top of the seventh when Kody Hall provided an RBI single to give the Cavemen a 2-1 lead.
Lyman bounced back immediately in the bottom half of the seventh with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2 and send it to extra innings.
It was then that Flinders provided his game-winning hit, setting up Pitcher with an opportunity to close out the win.
Ingersoll admits he thought about pulling his senior starter in favor of a reliever for the final inning, but determined to let Pitcher start what he finished.
“I thought his mound presence was really good and he showed us by his body language that he could get the job done,” Ingersoll said.
Ingersoll's instincts proved correct as Pitcher again threw his way out of yet another tight situation for the win.
Although it's still early in the season, Ingersoll believes this was a big win for his team to prove it could deal with pressure effectively.
“Anytime you have pressure, it’s a privilege, and our guys stepped up in those key moments today, I thought,” Ingersoll said. “Our guys got the job done today. They picked each other up, and they picked me up.”
With the win, American Fork improves to 11-3 on the year and 6-1 in Region 4 play. Lone Peak drops to 9-3 and 6-1 in Region 4 play with the loss. The two teams will square off again Wednesday before finishing out the three-game series Friday.