SPANISH FORK The American Fork Cavemen won their first two Region 4 baseball games last week by having a high-scoring inning in each game.
For a while Monday, it looked like the Cavemen were going to win again behind a big inning a four-run fifth. But the Spanish Fork Dons decided to take a page from American Fork's play book. By scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Dons came back from a 4-1 deficit to register a key 7-4 win.
"The thing you get from A.F. is they're always going to compete," Spanish Fork coach Jim "Shoe" Nelson said. "They're scrappy, they play hard, they play with a lot of emotion and they really get after it. And that was one of the keys we discussed before the game was that we had to match that kind of competitiveness and that kind of emotion. And I was really happy with how the kids fought back and how they battled."
Up until that six-run inning, the Dons had failed to make much of their scoring chances while the Cavemen made the most of theirs. The Dons scored only one run in the first on three singles. The Dons also wasted a lead-off triple in the second and a lead-off single in the third. Fortunately for Spanish Fork, starter Adam Duke was on cruise control holding the Cavemen hitless through four innings.
But in the fifth, when Spanish Fork's left and center fielders looked at each other as a tall fly off the bat of American Fork's Nate Pitcher dropped between them the Cavemen were suddenly in business. The next hitter walked, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Stuart Duersch that advanced both runners into scoring position. Tanner Christensen then delivered American Fork's first hit in timely fashion, a grounder between short and third that gave the Cavemen a 2-1 lead.
American Fork wasn't done. Two batters later Bo Fisher pushed a run home on a two-out infield single. Jake Murphy followed with an RBI single to left, putting the Cavemen up 4-1.
Cavemen starter Josh Mooney, who at one point retired eight straight, breezed through the fifth. In the sixth, however, he tired and struggled with leg cramps walking the lead-off batter and hitting the next with a pitch. When Michael Hayes singled up the middle to cut American Fork's lead to 4-2, Cavemen coach Jarod Ingersoll went to reliever Jerrit Pulsipher.
The Dons were not kind to the southpaw. First, Shawn Peterson singled over second to load the bases. Then, with two outs, Damon Ward slapped a drive into the left-field corner that cleared the bases and put Spanish Fork ahead 5-4.
"They were playing him in left-center and I was just hoping we'd get something down that line," Nelson said.
Brock Duke added some insurance with a two-run single to left. Then, after being one batter away from coming out in the fifth, little brother Adam Duke regrouped and retired American Fork in order in the seventh."For a little skinny guy, that ball comes out awful firm and he throws pretty hard," Nelson said.