OREM — Nothing really went according to plan for Maple Mountain on Thursday, but the Golden Eagles are still playing baseball — and that’s all that matters.
After falling to Salem Hills in a 4A winners bracket game earlier in the evening, Maple Mountain turned right around and gutted out a 6-5 eight-inning victory over a spirited Timpanogos team that was realistically playing with house money in its third game in 24 hours.
Now, Maple Mountain will quickly turn its attention to Friday’s championship game against Salem Hills at 1:30 p.m.
“I’m so excited right now. I have no doubt in my mind that we’re going to give Salem everything we’ve got. We’re not going to leave anything on the table,” said Maple Mountain ace Arik Mack, who definitely saved the day for the Golden Eagles.
Mack didn’t start Thursday’s elimination game, with the coaching staff obviously hoping to save him for Friday, but with Maple Mountain trailing 4-3 after three innings everyone knew a pitching change was in order.
Mack came in and settled things down with four straight shutout innings, which enabled Maple Mountain to level the score at 4-4 in the fifth and ultimately send it to extra innings.
“We knew we had to take it one game at a time. There’s nothing about tomorrow if we don’t win today. We were going to do everything we could to win that game,” said Mack.
In the top of the eighth, the Golden Eagles’ numerous hits finally led to some runs as Jake Mafi singled in Jaron Hall to make it 5-4 and then Mafi increased the lead to 6-4, scoring on an error a few batters later.
Nobody expected Timpanogos to go quietly in its half of the eighth, especially after winning an extra-inning game against Mountain View the night before.
Jacob Church led off the eighth with a single, and two batters later Colin Schroeppel drove him in with a double to right-center as the T-Wolves quickly got the tying run in scoring position.
Mack could sense the tension on his team, and the BYU commit knew he had to take things over.
“I’ve got to be honest, I kind of had to ... say, ‘OK, I’m going to take this into my hand.’ I was painting the corners with the curveball and they were taking them the other way, so I just tried to overpower them with that last at-bat,” said Mack.
He did just that by blowing a fastball by the final batter of the game.
Asked if he has anything left in the tank after pitching 10 innings already this week, Mack said, “Oh yeah.”
If Maple Mountain has any chance of winning not just one, but two games against Salem Hills, it needs to clean things up defensively after committing four errors against Timpanogos.
Hitting wasn’t an issue for the Golden Eagles, however, as they pounded out 14 hits. They recorded five hits in a three-run third as they took a 3-2 lead, and added three more hits in the fifth when they threatened to blow the game wide open.
After Bryson Van Tassell singled in the tying run at 4-4 in the fifth, Jaron Hall lined a shot down the third-base line with the bases loaded that would’ve easily scored two runs, but the ump ruled that it was just a fraction foul.
Maple Mountain coach Gary Miner was adamant the ball hit the chalk, but the umps disagreed. Timpanogos got the next two hitters to strike out in a game with countless momentum swings.
Kaden Poulson went 3 for 4 at the plate to lead Maple Mountain in the win, wile Ivan Brooks, Hall and Mafi all went 2 for 4.
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