OREM — Win No. 5 is in the books.
Pleasant Grove began the week knowing it needed to win seven games coming back through the one-loss bracket of the 5A state tournament to win the state title.
After winning two nail-biters a day earlier at Kearns, Pleasant Grove rolled past Layton 12-0 in the elimination game at UVU on Thursday for its fifth victory of the week.
The Vikings now advance to Friday’s 5A championship game against unbeaten Jordan at 1:30 p.m. They would need to beat Jordan twice to win their first state championship since 1998.
“We have a shot. We have a shot and we’re not afraid of anybody as you can see that, we welcome the challenge tomorrow. It’s exciting,” said Pleasant Grove coach Darrin Henry.
Layton dropped into the elimination game with a 9-2 loss to Jordan earlier in the evening, and mentally it just never seemed to recover from committing four errors. In the second inning, the Vikings capitalized on three Layton errors with seven runs — only one earned — to jump out to the 7-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Vikings scored three more, highlighted by Ben Eldredge’s two-run triple to center field to take the 10-0 lead.
“Our game’s about pressure, we’re putting pressure on teams until they crack. You’ve seen our style of baseball all week, that’s how we’re going to play, and these guys have confidence. We don’t get down when bad things happen, the guys love each other and their teammates,” said Henry.
Pleasant Grove added two insurance runs in the fifth to finish things off.
Jade Smoot went 3 for 3 for the Vikings with a double and two RBIs, while Eldredge and Zac Peterson also had two hits.
Of their seven state tournament games over the past two weeks, Pleasant Grove has now scored in double digits four times.
Just as important was Easton Walker’s short stint on the mound. Pleasant Grove’s ace started but threw only two innings against Layton, making him available to pitch on Friday in some capacity. Henry also said that Smoot, Payton Henry and Logan Carlson are also available to pitch if necessary against Jordan.
For Layton, it was a frustrating end to a fantastic season as it came one victory short of playing on the last day of the baseball season for a second straight year.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company