OREM The Spanish Fork Dons were not going to throw junior Brock Duke, their hottest pitcher of late, against the Lone Peak Knights on Monday unless they really needed him to save the day.
Well, the Dons ended up needing a little day-saving, and Duke came through in more ways than one in Spanish Fork's 4-2 win over the Lone Peak Knights in the one-loss bracket of the 5A baseball tournament at Utah Valley State College.
First, Duke put the Dons ahead for good when he blasted a two-out two-run homer over the left field fence in the top of the first. Then in the bottom of the third, after Lone Peak had strung together a walk and three straight singles to load the bases and cut Spanish Fork's lead to 3-2, Duke came in to relieve starter Tyler Hanks and put out the fire without allowing another Knight to score.
"Let's just face facts, Brock Duke was the story of the game," Dons coach Jim "Shoe" Nelson said. "He got us going with the bat and he came in and took care of business on the mound. He's a heck of a competitor."
However, a lot of credit for ending that third-inning threat has to go to Spanish Fork right fielder Gentry Mitchell. With one out, Lone Peak's Chase Cook hit a fly ball down the right-field line that appeared to be deep enough to score the runner from third. But after catching the ball a little out of position to make a strong throw, Mitchell spun around and fired a strike to the plate to gun down the runner and end the inning.
"That was a game-saving play right there," Duke said. "If he doesn't make a big-league play like that then the game is tied. Instead, all of the momentum turned back our way."
Clinging to that 3-2 lead, Spanish Fork added a run in the next inning on an RBI single by Kurt Daley. But Duke had a little more rescuing to do. In Lone Peak's sixth the Knights had runners on first and third and Duke enticed a slow grounder to second to end the inning. In the seventh Duke retired Lone Peak's No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 hitters in order to seal the victory.
Lone Peak's wasted scoring chances in the third and sixth were not their only ones. In the first, after scoring a run on Kade Andrus' RBI grounder, the Knights left the bases loaded without pushing another run across.For the game, Duke finished with three hits. Shaun Peterson and Damon Ward each had two hits for the Dons. Matt Williams was the only Knight to have two hits. Overall, Lone Peak managed only seven singles for the game.