KEARNS — It’s not exactly a secret that Maple Mountain’s Arik Mack is one of the best pitchers in the state of Utah. On Tuesday night, he reaffirmed that assessment.
Mr. Mack was smooth and striking as a tuxedo on the dirt in the 4A winners bracket at Kearns High. In five innings of work, the BYU commit and four-year starter struck out five batters and gave up three hits as the Golden Eagles walloped Timpanogos, 7-1.
“I’ve thrown against them. I think this is my fourth time,” Mack said. “They probably should hit me to be honest with you. But they were putting the bat on the ball for sure. You got to tip your hat to them. They did pretty good.”
With the victory, Maple Mountain earned a date with region rival Salem Hills in the 4A semifinals Thursday.
“It’s a tough game, but I think we’re rolling right now,” said Nik Mafi, who homered in his first game back from an ankle injury. “It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re on our way.”
The Golden Eagles struck first in the third inning on Jonah Flinders’ RBI single. Then, while Mack was at-bat, a passed ball brought home another run for a 2-0 cushion.
For Mack, who improved to 9-0 and won his 19th-straight decision, a two-run lead might as have been five.
“Two-run lead I can feel off that — even if it’s one,” Mack said. “It puts a lot of pressure on you as a pitcher if you walk a guy or hit a guy.”
Maple Mountain earned another run on MaKay Nelson’s sac fly in the fourth inning before the Golden Eagles released the dogs in the fifth. Precluded by a single from Flinders and a double by KJ Hall, Mack helped his own cause with a two-run RBI stand-up double to left.
“I don’t know what is, but every time I hit a ball hard it’s (opposite field),” Mack said. “I can’t pull the ball — it’s weird because I’m a lefty. It was a fun game. We had a lot of energy.”
Two batters later, after Kaden Poulson reached on balls, Mafi uncorked a two-run bomb to left to give the Golden Eagles a commanding 7-0 lead.
“It felt pretty good coming back after being out for quite awhile,” Mafi said. “It felt good.”
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