It makes me happy I can come through for my team, especially when I was struggling at the plate earlier in the game with two strikeouts. All I wanted was to put the ball in play and help my team win. —CJ Schroppel, Timpanogos baseball player
KEARNS — The deja vu that was unfolding for Timpanogos’ baseball team on Wednesday night at Kearns High School was freakishly eerie.
A year to the day after blowing a six-run lead in a 4A elimination game against Mountain Crest, the T-Wolves found themselves in almost the exact same spot against region foe Mountain View after squandering a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Incredibly, just like the T-Wolves did a year ago, they fought through the adversity and lived to play another day in the 4A state tournament after emerging with an 8-6 victory over the Bruins in eight innings.
“A lot of these kids were here last year and I think that’s helped us and especially today, to stay in there and battle,” said Timpanogos coach Kim Nelson.
Timpanogos will be right back in action on Thursday night at UVU at 7 p.m. as it takes on the loser of the Maple Mountain-Salem Hills game.
Nelson said he likes his team’s chances if the players battle like they did on Wednesday — assuming they remember how to close a game out.
After scoring five runs in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead, Timpanogos was in cruise control heading into the seventh behind junior pitcher Jordan Evans, who’d pitched six masterful innings.
“Everything was clicking and going well,” said Nelson.
The Bruins weren’t about to go quietly, though, and came storming back thanks to some tired pitching by Evans and reliever Ryan Jacobson, not to mention two clutch Mountain View hits.
Mountain View’s first four hitters in the seventh reached safely on two walks, a hit batter and an error. Jayce Hill then made it 5-2 with an RBI single, and Shaun Snow followed by smacking a game-tying, three-run triple to right field.
With all the momentum on the Bruins’ side, coach Steve Boyack decided to gamble and tried a suicide squeeze.
As Snow broke for home, Nelson said, “I just visualized the ball being put in play and we’re going home with our heads between our tails.”
Fortunately for the T-Wolves, relief hurler Tanner Nielsen’s pitch was low and away, and Mountain View’s hitter failed to get his bat on the ball. Catcher Tate Laing easily tagged out Snow, and then Nielsen followed with a strikeout to send the game into extra innings.
After surviving the squeeze play, Timpanogos’ CJ Schroeppel said a wave of confidence surged back into the team despite botching the late lead.
Schroeppel carried that confidence with him when stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth. With the count full, he lined a single to right scoring Mitch Cloward and Laing for the 7-5 lead.
“It makes me happy I can come through for my team, especially when I was struggling at the plate earlier in the game with two strikeouts. All I wanted was to put the ball in play and help my team win,” said Schroeppel.
Teammate McKay Swope then scored from third on a failed pick-off play to increase the lead to 8-5.
In the bottom of the eighth, Mountain View put its first two batters on base, but Nielsen got out of the jam to earn the victory as the T-Wolves continued their march through the one-loss bracket — just like last year.
The victory was Nielsen’s second of the day as he pitched Timpanogos past Cyprus, 12-0, just a few hours earlier.