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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
American Fork and Riverton play Monday, May 6, 2013. American Fork won 8-3.
It’s a huge (win) for us to see where we’re at. Any time we’re working toward seeding in the tournament it’s obviously a huge benefit for us (to win against Riverton). —Jarod Ingersoll, American Fork baseball coach

AMERICAN FORK — Defending 5A champion American Fork took the first of a three-game series against Riverton on Monday to move into a tie with the Silverwolves for first place in Region 4. American Fork pitcher Sean Hardman threw his way out of what looked to be a game-busting jam in the top of the fifth inning to help key the 8-3 win.

American Fork and Riverton will face each other again Tuesday and Wednesday to decide the Region 4 championship.

Riverton’s Trevor Peterson had tied the game at 3-3 with an RBI single before a throwing error loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fifth. With the 3-4-5 hitters due at the plate for the Silverwoves, Hardman looked to be in a lot of trouble.

Instead of folding under the pressure, however, Hardman buckled down and provided a strikeout sandwiched between a couple of weak ground outs to end the threat and keep the Cavemen in the game.

“That was huge,” said American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll. “For (Hardman) to keep his composure during that — especially considering how good a hitting team Riverton is — that says a lot about who he is.”

American Fork took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Emmett Green scored from third base on a wild pitch to make it 4-3.

After Hardman pitched a scoreless top of the sixth the Cavemen scored four more runs in the bottom half of the frame. Koy Dibb started the scoring with an RBI single with Zac Haws topping it off with a two-RBI double that gave his team an 8-3 lead.

“Any time we can get some traffic (on the bases) then we have a pretty good chance to move guys around a little bit,” Ingersoll said.

The win improves American Fork to 10-3 in Region 4 play and drops Riverton to the same record. This is the last series of the regular season for both teams.

“It’s a huge (win) for us to see where we’re at,” Ingersoll said. “Any time we’re working toward seeding in the tournament it’s obviously a huge benefit for us (to win against Riverton).”

Records aside, Ingersoll likes what he’s seeing from his team late in the season and really liked what he saw during the top of the fifth inning.

“Other teams sort of wilt in those situations, but we kept our composure and did what we needed to do,” he said. “It helps when you have a guy on the mound like Sean (Hardman) and a guy behind the plate like Zac (Willis) to calm the game and manage the game. Those guys are great leaders.”

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney