We put the ball in play and got guys on base all day long, that’s what we’ve done as a program all year. Put the pressure on the defense and good things happen sometimes. —Hunter coach Quinn Downard
WEST VALLEY CITY — After a 19-year gap, Hunter’s baseball program enjoyed the thrill of playoff success.
The Wolverines overcame an early deficit to rally past West Jordan for the 4-3 victory as sophomore Angel Guevara delivered the walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
It was the first playoff win for Hunter since a 6-5 win over Skyline back in 1999 and snapped a 14-game losing streak in the playoffs.
“We’ve always been known as the football school, and baseball has always taken a back seat,” said Hunter coach Quinn Downard.
Guevara was the catalyst, a player Downard said drives his team despite being just a sophomore. He singled in his last three at bats, including the game-tying RBI single in the fifth inning and then the game-winning RBI single in the seventh.
“It felt great. I was just going for a hard hit and moving the runners and handing it off to the next guy,” said Guevara.
He did one better by hitting a ball over the left fielder’s head to drive in Hunter Newland, who led off the seventh inning with an infield single.
Hunter will try to back up Tuesday’s victory with another one on Wednesday when it travels to Region 1 champion Davis for the second round of the 6A state tournament.
The Wolverines had base runners in every inning but the third on Tuesday, and really put pressure on West Jordan’s pitchers.
“We put the ball in play and got guys on base all day long, that’s what we’ve done as a program all year. Put the pressure on the defense and good things happen sometimes,” said Downard.
It took Hunter awhile to get going though, as fielding errors and base running errors helped West Jordan jump out to a 3-0 lead.
The Jaguars opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI single from Ahmad Donaldson. In the fourth they tacked on another run on a bizarre Hunter error on what should’ve been a routine throw back to the pitcher, and then Braxton Brewster doubled in another run to push the lead to 3-0.
Hunter regrouped offensively in its half of the fourth, scoring on a Brakken Knorr RBI single and then a West Jordan error on a pick-off play at first base.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the fifth inning, Hunter starter Jaxon Slack gave way to sophomore Boston Frandsen, who was outstanding with three shutout innings the rest of the way. He got tremendous defensive help from speedy center-fielder Newland, who made a diving catch to rob Donaldson of a double.
“He runs down balls that most teams think are hits,” said Downard.
He tracked down another gapper in the seventh inning to help Frandsen retire the last nine hitters he faced and set the stage for a sophomore to deliver in the clutch.
“We fought through a lot of adversity this year. Had three or four different injuries happen throughout the season, so a lot of our younger guys have got to play a lot coming in and that’s a lot of what helped us today,” said Downard.