KEARNS — There are often good performances on the mound, and occasionally, there are excellent ones.
Then there are gems, performances like the one Spencer Downs produced against the Logan Grizzlies at Kearns High on Tuesday afternoon in the 4A baseball tournament.
Downs was terrific from start to finish, throwing a one-run, four-hitter to pace the Spartans to a 7-1 victory in the one-loss bracket.
Murray's ace retired the Grizzlies in order in each of the first four innings. It wasn't until back-to-back singles by Logan in the fifth inning that the ball managed to find its way to the turf in fair territory to break up the junior pitcher's perfect game.
After a 4-6-3 double play by the Spartans, Downs had only faced one batter over the minimum heading into the sixth inning. By that point Murray had taken a commanding 7-0 lead that all but put the game out of reach.
Spartans head coach Marce Wilson was impressed with the way Downs bounced back following a rough outing in his team's loss earlier in the tournament to Maple Mountain.
"He started against Maple Mountain and he was pretty sick," Wilson said. "So I'm sure he wanted some redemption. I'm sure he wanted to go back out and prove himself and he did. He kept them off balance; he throws well; he doesn't get rattled; and he's an extremely hard worker. Like we say, 'Hard work usually comes to fruition,' and it did for Spencer. All the hard work he does in the offseason paid off today."
For his part, Downs was quick to credit his teammates afterward.
"It helps you realize you have a team behind you and you don't have to be a one-man team. When no one is scoring you feel like you have to do it all and it's a lot easier to relax when you know you can trust your team behind you," Downs said.
"I know even if they get a hit there is still a chance we'll make a play on it. Bo Shipley made that diving catch and even though he didn't get him out he stopped it, which would have gone for a double."
Downs said the loss last week to Maple Mountain helped his team take a big look at itself.
"I think it was a good eye-opener for us. We came into that Maple Mountain game on a 12-game win streak and I think we needed to be humbled a little bit. It helped us realize we aren't invincible and it's not going to be automatic," Downs said.
"Our overall goal is still to win state. We know that we don't have any room for error and if we focus on each game in front of us, we'll be good to go."
The Spartans will continue their quest for a state championship versus the loser of the Mountain View-Salem Hills contest. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown out Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Kearns High.
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