SOUTH JORDAN — Riley Ottesen can beat you in a several different ways —with his arm, with his bat and, perhaps most importantly, with his leadership.
All three are pretty darned impressive.
The American Fork junior right-hander notched a solid complete-game performance and helped his own cause with a two-run single to propel the Cavemen into the 5A baseball championship semifinals with an 8-3 victory over Jordan in Tuesday's action at Salt Lake Community College.
"We're glad to be here," Cavemen coach Jarod Ingersoll said. "We want to get to the end goal (the state title), and these guys have been working for it for a long time, so I'm just happy with the character of these guys and everything that they've done to put us in this position."
Jordan (17-9), meanwhile, drops into the one-loss bracket, where the Beetdiggers will battle Taylorsville in an elimination game today at 1:30p.m. at SLCC.
Ottesen allowed six hits and three runs over seven innings, recording six strikeouts while giving up three walks.
"I was just trying to keep 'em off balance, trying to do what I do and try to do what my coaches want me to do," he said. "I try to keep 'em off balance, just throw strikes and work ahead (in the count).
"We came out with the win. We came out with good defense, the defense played great, and the offense came through when we needed it. Defense was definitely the biggest part of that game, so I want to thank my defense.
"I'm very happy (to be in the semifinals)," Ottesen said. "That was a team win right there, it's all about the team. I just want to thank my coaches and my teammates for doing what they do best."
B.J. Eldredge had an RBI single for American Fork, while Zac Haws added a sacrifice fly and Danny Beddes also brought home a run for the Cavemen.
Coach Ingersoll was mighty proud of Ottesen's performance, both on the mound and at the plate, where Ottesen went 3-for-4 and scored a run to go along with his two RBIs.
"Riley is a competitor and he does a real good job for us," the Cavemen coach said. "We knew if we could get some early run support early on and kind of take the pressure off of us defensively, then he was going to do his job. And he did. And that says a lot about him and our defense and the way that we were able to get some runs offensively.
"The kid can swing it," Ingersoll said of his good-hitting pitcher. "He always seems like he hits really well when he's pitching. He can hit when he doesn't pitch, too, but he hits really well when he does pitch."
Ottesen was happy he could help his team with his bat as well as with his pitching arm.
"I was just waiting for a first-pitch fastball, got it, and happened to do something with it," he said of his two-run single, "and I just tried to pick up my team the rest of the day. A couple of balls dropped here and there (for his other base hits) and I just happened to be doing all right."
On the mound, the Beetdigger batter that gave Ottesen the most trouble by far was shortstop Brennon Anderson, who banged out three hits and was a triple short of the cycle. He singled in the first, launched a solo home run to lead off the fourth for Jordan's first run of the game and smacked a run-scoring double in the sixth.
"The only person I had to really worry about today was Brennon Anderson, obviously. He went 3-for-4 with a bomb ... great swinger," Ottesen said. "I wanted to work ahead and get right after batters. They hit me well."
"We just missed a couple locations on those pitches," Ingersoll said of Anderson's big day at the plate. "He's a great hitter, but Riley's stuff is good enough to get any hitter out in the state. If he can keep the ball low and change speeds, he's pretty tough."
Ottesen's second-inning single, following a couple of walks and a sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Reynolds, gave A.F. an early 2-0 lead. The Cavemen added two more runs in the third on a single by Cade Hill, who went 2-for-3, a walk, a Jordan error and Eldredge's run-scoring single. The Beetdiggers got a run back in the fourth on Anderson's blast over the left-field fence, but American Fork made it 5-1 in the fifth on Haws' sac fly.
Jordan threatened with two runs in the sixth, as Anderson doubled to bring in a run and Mark Krueger's broken-bat double cut the gap to 5-3.
"I will admit, I was trying to overthrow (in the sixth inning)," Ottesen said. "I was trying to overpower everyone but my coach said 'Just relax, let them get themselves out.' And I started to throw strikes and work ahead and got a couple of outs and we got out of it."
The Cavemen, who took second place in 5A last season, then put it away in the bottom of the sixth with three runs, as Morgan Flinders and Ottesen each singled, Zac Willis walked and Beddes' grounder and a Jordan error paved the way for the decisive inning.
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