AMERICAN FORK The Spanish Fork Dons have officially shed the label of a weak-hitting baseball team.
If there was still any lingering doubt, Wednesday's 16-hit attack in a 13-2 Region 4 win over the American Fork Cavemen surely should have cleared things up.
Through four league games, the Dons have now scored 42 runs. Currently, there are not many players in Spanish Fork's lineup who are not having some quality at-bats.
"I thought consistently throughout the game we swung the bats really well," Spanish Fork coach Jim "Shoe" Nelson said. "Even when we made outs, we hit it pretty hard and squared up on the ball good."
In the shortened six-inning rout, five Dons had multihit games. Gentry Mitchell had a double, three singles and two RBIs. Tyler Hanks was a home run short of hitting for the cycle while knocking in three runs. Damon Ward had three singles, while Brock Duke and Taggart Lunceford each had two hits. Kurt Daley managed only a double but walked twice.
"The last four or five games we've swung the bats pretty well, and if we swing the bat well with the guys we have on the mound, we're a pretty good baseball team," Nelson said.
With the way Duke has been pitching of late, Spanish Fork probably didn't need all of that offense and was looking fairly comfortable after a three-run first. The junior right-hander, coming off of back-to-back no-hitters, allowed five singles while striking out eight. Most importantly, he held the meat of American Fork's batting order to only 2-of-12, with five strikeouts.
Even though the Dons jumped up 4-0 after three innings, they wasted a couple more early scoring chances by having two runners thrown out trying to steal. Then, in the bottom of the third, the Cavemen made things interesting with a pair of runs to cut the lead to 4-2. One crossed on Bo Fisher's slap single to right and the second on a throwing error.
An inning later, American Fork threatened to cut the gap even more when its first two runners reached on a walk and hit batter. But, after a sacrifice moved both into scoring position, both were stranded when Duke fanned the next two hitters.
"That's where having that guy on the bump who can get a strikeout when you need one really helps you out," Nelson said.
Spanish Fork then piled it on with six runs in the fifth, sending 11 men to the dish. The Dons had six hits in the frame but were also aided by four American Fork errors. The Dons added three more in the sixth to take the 11-run lead. The big hit in the inning was Hanks' two-out, two-run triple.
"This type of game is not how many games will go in this region, but we just happened to get on a roll and take advantage of their pitching and their mistakes," Nelson said.Spanish Fork is now 4-0 and alone atop the Region 4 standings. American Fork drops to 2-2.