KEARNS Orem pitcher Marc Morgan learned early on Tuesday that his day was going to be busier than usual.
When Morgan pitches, he typically doesn't hit in the Tigers' lineup. He hasn't had a regular spot in Orem's batting order since his first start in region play, exactly seven weeks prior to the Tigers' 8-1 victory over Box Elder in a 4A state tournament elimination game at Kearns High on Tuesday.
But with the way Morgan has been pounding the ball in practice, Orem coach Gary Miner chose to give Morgan a chance to hit against Box Elder. The move paid off, as Morgan went 2-for-2 with two RBI singles to help the Tigers stay alive for another day in the state tournament.
Miner usually keeps his starting hurlers, Morgan and Nate Adamson, out of his batting lineup when they throw so that they can focus on their pitching. He had a hunch Morgan was ready for a breakout game with his bat, and informed him in the morning that he would be hitting eighth in the order.
"In Marc's case, he hits the ball so stinkin' hard," Miner said. "It's feast or famine for him. He's going to break the L-screen against me or he's going to pop up or something."
Morgan left no doubt whether it was going to be feast or famine against the Bees. Both of his singles were hard-hit line drives to the outfield. The first gave Orem a 4-0 lead in the first inning, the second put the Tigers ahead 5-0 in the third.
"I was happy to get the opportunity," Morgan said. "It was fun. Hopefully, I can stay consistent and get more opportunities."
As good as Morgan was at the plate, he was even better on the mound. He was incredibly efficient, throwing just 49 pitches while allowing two hits in four innings. The only trouble he faced came in the third inning when two Bees reached base with one out. But solid defensive plays by right fielder Colton Baird and shortstop Jordan Sargent helped him out of it.
Also working in Morgan's favor was a quick start by the Tigers. Orem ripped seven hits in the first inning while building a 5-0 lead. Harrison Gray, who relieved Morgan in the fifth, blasted a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the first for the Tigers.
"It (the fast start) was a big relief," Morgan said. "It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. I just had to go out and do my job. We're hitting consistently through the whole lineup."The Tigers improved to 3-0 against Region 5 teams in the state tournament. They defeated Mountain Crest in the first round, and eliminated Bonneville and Box Elder at Gates Field this week.
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