OREM The Orem Tigers were down but not out in their first-round playoff win against Mountain Crest Tuesday afternoon. The 8-5 comeback victory showed the resilience the Tigers and pitcher Josh Hamblin is capable of after finding themselves in a hole early.
The Mustangs (10-8, 11-12) were all over Hamblin early as they brought three runs across in the top of the first thanks to a two-run bomb hit over the gate in centerfield by Tyler Webb. The next batter, Mountain Crest pitcher Kyle Anderson, roped a double down the third baseline to help his own cause setting up Robbie Garret for an RBI single to stretch the lead to 3-0.
The stampede continued in the second as Mountain Crest added two more runs, the first coming off a Derek Lishman RBI single. Anderson then gave himself some more breathing room with an RBI base knock of his own.
Trailing 5-0 in the bottom of the second the Tigers (9-3, 15-8) finally rallied to tie the score. C.J. Harrison and Colton Baird drew walks. Harrison scored after Hamblin singled, and advanced to second on an error. Orem's Jordan Sargent doubled two runs across to close the gap to 5-3. Consecutive RBIs by Jordan Johnston and Jeff Mella capped off the inning.
"It was fortunate and also a credit to our kids that they came back and got us tied up." said Orem coach Gary Miner. "Then it's like 'OK, from here we can settle in."'
After leaving his curve ball hanging over the plate early, Hamblin established himself to keep the Mustangs scoreless the rest of the way.
"They started off hot and I kind of left the ball up in the zone a lot," Hamblin said. "They were hitting us really well, but then our guys battled back."
The Tigers took the lead in the fifth with a Harrison RBI single, but the Mustangs got out of the inning with minimal damage as Anderson escaped a runners-on-the-corners jam. Harrison then put a lid on the game for Orem in the sixth as he laced a bases-loaded double in the gap for his second and third RBIs of the game.
"He's the ultimate competitor," said Miner of Hamblin's performance on the mound. "It's a credit to Josh who simply said, I'm not going to panic."
Mountain Crest threatened in the top of the seventh, but came up empty as Miner brought in reliever Marc Morgan to force pinch-hitter Derek Pond into a dribbler back to the pitcher for the final out.