WOODS CROSS — The stone-age phrase in baseball that "hitting is contagious" might be cliché. Regardless, that unmistakable aroma fills the diamond as singles continue to mount.
In the second round of the 4A baseball tournament at Woods Cross High on Wednesday, Murray caught that contagious bug something fearsome. The Spartans cranked out 16 hits to topple Woods Cross, 12-4.
"We're looking good," said Murray pitcher Came Howe. "We need to keep putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position. The main thing for us is team execution — gotta keep having strong outings from everyone."
The hits were flying from all sources to every part of the field. All nine starters for the Spartans reached base successfully off base hits. "We have a pretty dang good lineup," Howe said.
In a 2-2 ballgame in the fourth inning, the Spartans (17-7) caught fire. With two outs, Chase Topham connected on a two-run RBI single. Two batters later, after Howe singled, Mitch Dial extended the lead to 5-2 with a double.
Then, following a scoreless fifth inning, Dial delivered another RBI double to start a furious two-out rally.
Jordan Nickle, Justice Leiter and Nick Smart successively brought home runs on singles to balloon the lead to 10-2.
As impressive as Murray's offensive surge appeared, its pitching might have one-upped itself. "Our pitching will carry us the whole way I think," Howe said.
Woods Cross (17-9) entered the contest winners of nine of 10 games. In that time span, the Wildcats averaged 8.4 runs while scoring five runs or more in all but one.
Yet, on Wednesday, the Wildcats struggled to find a rhythm against Howe's assortment of pitches.
"Keeping them off balance like I have been all year," said Howe when asked what his philosophy was heading into the high-stakes matchup. "Mixing in the curve ball first pitch, trying to locate fastballs and painting the outer-half. It's been a key for me all year.
"My defense played good — we made some great plays in the outfield that really saved us," added Howe, who improved to 5-1 on the year. "It was a great all-around team effort."
Murray advances to meet Sky View at 7 p.m. at Kearns High School on May 22. Woods Cross moves onto the consolation bracket against Olympus on Monday.
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