Our kids kept simple swings and we were able to square a few up. That's always nice to get those when they come, so we'll take it. —American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll
PLEASANT GROVE — Things rarely come easy in Region 4 play, although the American Fork baseball team appears to be bucking that trend early on. The Cavemen pushed their region record to 4-0 on Wednesday, storming past rival Pleasant Grove 12-3 in a game featuring a lot of hits, some contentious play and a late power display from the Cavemen in the form of two seventh-inning home runs.
The two home runs were both hit over the left field fence with the wind blowing in a bit, with Colton Carpenter accounting for the first in a solo effort to push American Fork's lead to 9-3. Three batters later saw JD Gardner hit an almost identical shot, this time bringing three runs around for the 12-3 lead, which proved to be the final.
"Our kids kept simple swings and we were able to square a few up," said American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll. "That's always nice to get those when they come, so we'll take it."
What was also good to take was a fast start, which included seven hits over the first two innings which the Cavemen parlayed into a quick 5-0 lead. Highlighting those hits was Marty McCoy slugging an RBI double and Carpenter an RBI triple in the second inning. Starting things off in the first inning, however, were Ryan Hardman, Dawson Parry and Travis Johnson to put the Vikings squarely on their heels from the start.
"They trusted their process today," Ingersoll said. "It was good to get early run support for our pitching, but defensively, we've got to clean things up. We weren't as sharp. But overall a pretty good effort."
The hits kept coming in the third inning, in the form of three more hits and three more runs to stretch the lead to 8-0. Things also got a bit heated in the inning, with American Fork's Morgan Wood colliding hard with Pleasant Grove catcher Jaxon Brown at the plate, leading to a quick ejection of both players, with umpires perhaps aware of the two teams' heated history versus one another.
The collision also perhaps ignited the Vikings a bit, with them responding with two runs scored in the bottom half of the third inning and another in the fourth, cutting the lead to 8-3. But stellar pitching from starter Boone Abbott and good relief work from Jim Flinders for the final three innings kept Pleasant Grove at bay throughout.
The two teams will play twice more this week, with the Cavemen hoping to stretch their Region 4 lead and the Vikings hoping to cut down their rival's early momentum.
"Pleasant Grove does as good a job as anyone in the state. They're a well-coached club," Ingersoll said. "So we've got to be a little bit sharper tomorrow because they're going to come after us."