KEARNS — Jake Post hadn’t pitched a complete game in four years. In fact, for much of his high school baseball career, he has played center field or catcher for the Wasatch Wasps.
But with the Wasps short on pitching and facing an elimination game Saturday afternoon against Bountiful in the 5A state tournament, coach Lou Green asked him to take the mound.
Post scattered three hits over six innings and Wasatch plated nine runs early, thanks mostly to the Braves’ shoddy fielding, and the Wasps advanced with an 11-4 victory at Kearns High School’s Gates Field.
“Coach told me to work through anything, no matter what happens, and my teammates had my back,” Post said.
With the win, the fourth-seeded Wasps stayed alive and will play the winner of Saturday night’s Brighton-Viewmont matchup at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Gates Field. Bountiful, also a fourth seed that surprised Olympus in the first round, saw its season end with an 8-20 record.
Murray and Olympus also won Saturday, and they will play each other Monday at 11 a.m. In championship-round games, Jordan plays Timpanogos at 4:30 p.m. and Cottonwood meets Skyridge at 7 p.m. — all at Kearns.
The key to getting through the consolation bracket is pitching depth, Green said, and he hoped for the best with Post, who threw four innings last week against Maple Mountain that allowed the Wasps to make it to state.
“I was planning to have him out there (pitching) for maybe four innings,” Green said. “But, after each inning, I would ask him, ‘How’s your arm? On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you feeling?′ He kept saying, ’12,’ so I kept going with him.”
Post struck out three batters and walked just two. Thanks to Wasatch’s big second inning that staked him to a 9-0 lead, he always the momentum. He got ahead of most of Bountiful’s hitters and never felt threatened, although the Braves put together three consecutive hits in the seventh frame.
“The best I ever felt, though, was when I threw that last pitch and knew we had won the game,” Post said.
Wasatch jumped on Bountiful early. Brock Cloward and Jake Allen had a pair of doubles that rocked Braves’ starter J.D. Cunningham, who also had to try to get through the inning with three errors. Allen and Aidan McGoffin had three RBIs. McGoffin’s big hit came in the fourth inning and the two additional runs were helped by a balk and another Bountiful error.
“That’s kind of been our M.O. all year,” said Bountiful coach Clark Stringfellow. “We had trouble with our defense for much of the season but cleaned it up in our first two (tournament) games here. But this game doesn’t define us or our season. The kids have a lot to be proud of.”
The Braves won three of four games against Woods Cross to reach state, and then pulled the shocker of the tournament so far when Cunningham’s near-perfect effort sent Olympus to the consolation round. Wasatch, however, had the pitching magic in this game.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.