KEARNS — Despite logic screaming at him otherwise, Jordan coach Chad Fife trusted his gut late Tuesday night at Kearns High School.
He didn’t care that Mason Krueger had committed four errors at third base earlier in the game, the ‘Diggers were in a big jam with the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the seventh, and Fife whole-heartedly trusted Krueger to come in and close the game on the mound.
“He’s got ice in his veins out there on the mound,” said Fife.
You couldn’t have scripted a better goat-to-hero story. Krueger made amends for his four errors — including a throwing error from third in the seventh which helped load the bases — by retiring Lone Peak’s 4-5-6 hitters on a pop up, strike out and fly ball to lead Jordan to the 4-3 victory in the 5A winners bracket.
“I just said I kind of sucked before, so I kind of owed it to my team to give Lone Peak the business,” said Kreuger. “When I’m on the mound it’s like a calm feeling. I just like being up there. Nothing really bothers me, I don’t pay attention to their crowd yelling out me.”
With the victory, Jordan advances in the 5A winners bracket and will face Layton at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday at UVU. Lone Peak drops down into the one-loss bracket and will face Bingham on Wednesday at Kearns High School at 4 p.m.
Lone Peak had a chance to close things down in the top of the seventh leading 3-2, but Parker Anderson, Krueger and Cale Hathaway opened the inning with three straight doubles to give Jordan the 4-3 lead.
After an intentional walk to slugger Colton Shaver, Jordan had a chance to blow the game wide open with two runners on and nobody out, but Lone Peak relief pitcher Seth Corry came on and struck out three straight to keep the deficit at 4-3.
Prior to the drama-filled seventh inning, Tuesday’s late game at Kearns High School which ended well after 11 p.m. was dominated by the pitchers.
Lone Peak ace Grant Lyman only gave up two runs and five hits while striking out nine through the first six innings. Jordan’s Morgan Gomez countered with nine Ks as well before departing in the seventh.
“Mo had thrown a heck of a game. His pitch count was pretty high, and that was their fourth time through, (I thought) let’s role the dice maybe he’ll pop a guy out and get a ground ball double play,” said Fife.
It didn’t go exactly as Fife had envisioned, but Krueger did get the pop out first which helped build his confidence for the final two outs.
“As long as you always believe in yourself you can do whatever you want,” said Krueger.
Jordan opened the scoring on an RBI-double by Shaver in the first inning, but Lone Peak answered right back with a Chandler Goeckeritz RBI-double in the bottom of the first tying the score 1-1.
Lone Peak took a 2-1 lead in the third, but Jordan leveled the score 2-2 in the sixth on an RBI single from Christian Bailey.
Just when it looked like Jordan might be seizing momentum, however, Krueger booted a ball in the bottom of the sixth, and two batters later Lone Peak’s Sterling Larsen doubled home the unearned run for the 3-2 lead.
In the seventh, Krueger more than redeemed himself from the mound and the plate.