SANDY — Colton Shaver could hardly contain himself.
A few innings earlier, underdog Fremont intentionally walked the Jordan slugger with first base open, a wise move that helped the Silver Wolves escape a seventh-inning jam and send the 5A tournament game into extra innings.
When Shaver came back to the plate in the ninth with runners on first and second and nobody out, Shaver knew there was no way Fremont could pitch around him. Fremont’s Braxton Bullock had pitched brilliantly all game, but down in the count early against Shaver, he pretty much had to throw a fastball.
Shaver anticipated the pitch and tattooed it over Jordan’s towering center-field fence, a walk-off three-run homer that secured a stressful 4-1 victory Wednesday over a gritty Fremont team that upset American Fork a day earlier.
“Those are the games you want to play in. These games remind me how much I love this game, all that pressure. The competition between both teams, the energy,” said Shaver.
A great defensive play by Fremont left fielder Tanner Wade in the fifth inning denied Shaver a double, but his coach figured he was due if he got another chance.
“He was due to hit one on the screws,” said coach Chad Fife.
Shaver was dialed in on the mound as well, striking out a career-high 16 and only allowing three hits for the complete-game victory.
“I was just spotting, doing what my coaches called. My curveball broke a lot, and I got them to chase. They were being aggressive and I took advantage of it,” said Shaver.
Jordan’s coaches were hoping to only have Shaver pitch four innings, but with the game tied 1-1 after the fourth, they couldn’t afford to take him out of the game.
With the victory, Jordan advances in the 5A winners bracket and will face Lone Peak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Kearns High.
“These (close) games are crucial to winning a state title, and now we know the taste of that pressure,” said Shaver.
Shaver only allowed one hit through the first seven innings Wednesday, a first-inning single to left by Garrett Himelright, but it led to Fremont’s lone run. The Wolves' next two batters reached base on errors by the third basemen, and Pake Hadley followed with a hit by pitch with the bases loaded that gave Fremont the early 1-0 lead.
Jordan tied the game in the fourth on a suicide squeeze by Parker Anderson, but was denied a big inning when a runner was picked off at second base with leadoff hitter Mason Krueger at the plate.3 comments on this story
It was the first of several clutch defensive plays for Fremont. In the sixth, Seth Butterfield singled to right, but teammate Morgan Gomez slipped briefly while trying to score from second base and was gunned down in a collision at home plate with catcher Tyson Hancock.
Butterfield tried to advance to second base on the play, but overran the base briefly and was tagged out as Fremont escaped another potential big inning.
In the seventh and eighth, Fremont’s pitcher recorded more clutch outs with Jordan base runners in scoring position, but in the ninth a leadoff single by Krueger and then a walk by Cale Hathaway set the stage for Shaver.