Right now we have newfound confidence and everybody believes in the person up after them. —Manti head coach James Nelson
KEARNS — Manti coach James Nelson always tells his team it’s fun to win in March, but it’s more fun to win in May.
So when his team was slogging through the regular season, losing game after game, including seven straight at one point, Nelson said they kept working.
“We lost lots of games by one and two that were heartbreakers, which are tough to take. My kids kept coming to practice every day working hard. They didn’t quit. I’m proud of them,” said Nelson.
That no-quit attitude paid off again in the 3A quarterfinals on Thursday.
Manti rallied past Richfield for an 8-6 victory at Kearns High School, its sixth win in the past seven games.
“We’ve been able to score runs in bunches these last few games. Right now we have newfound confidence and everybody believes in the person up after them,” said Nelson. “When we lost seven in a row, that’s a big number. We knew we weren’t as bad as that record, we knew it.”
In the region play Richfield beat Manti 8-1 in both games, and through four innings on Thursday it was in control up 3-0.
Richfield did its damage in the second inning, and it started with a lead-off double from Morgan Albrecht, who advanced to third when the center fielder missed the cutoff man.
Manti pitcher Tristan Barnes worked his way out of the jam without allowing any more runs, which was important because it kept Manti within striking distance.
An inning later Manti tied the game at 3-3 with consecutive two-out singles from Adam Huff and Brailsford.
As Manti’s bats were coming alive, Barnes was settling in nicely on the mound.
“He never gets rattled. He pitched against Juab last Saturday and just walked two. He’s always close enough to the zone that hitters have to be ready. He keeps hitters off balance,” said Nelson.
In the sixth, Manti blew the game wide open with five runs on five hits. Shortstop Matt Nelson got things going with a two-run single with the bases loaded giving Manti the 5-3 lead.
Dallin Rasmussen followed with an RBI double, followed by RBI singles from Huff and Brailsford to seemingly put the game out of reach.
Richfield scored three runs in the seventh inning after Manti’s left fielder dropped what would’ve been the third out, but Manti settled down and escaped with a win.
Huff finished the game going 3 for 4 with two RBI to lead Manti, with Nelson and Brailsford each adding two RBI.