Our guys put some quality swings together and did a good job of executing. We were aggressive and put a lot of pressure on them. —American Fork head coach Jarod Ingersoll
OREM — American Fork took care of business early to get past Clearfield 15-5 on Monday, advancing to the 6A semifinal round in the no-loss bracket.
The Cavemen bats came alive to the tune of 17 hits, which included seven in the first inning that sent eight runs home. Travis Johnson began the scoring with a two-run single with Colton Carpenter topping things off with an RBI triple, as the Cavemen sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning alone.
"The kids had good approaches," said American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll while noting that Clearfield starting pitcher Bryson Hirabayashi taking a hard-hit ball to the knee may have thrown him off his best stuff. "Our guys put some quality swings together and did a good job of executing. We were aggressive and put a lot of pressure on them."
Three consecutive RBI singles from Griffey Larsen, Jack Walker and Ryan Hardman also highlighted the first inning onslaught.
The second inning saw American Fork increase its lead to 9-0 before RBI singles from Hardman and Dawson Parry opened up an 11-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the third inning.
At that time Ingersoll elected to pull his starting pitcher, Hardman, from the mound, mindful of the opportunity to save his arm and perhaps pitch him again in the semifinal round versus Bingham on Wednesday.
"I don't like to do that," Ingersoll said. "It's a really tough decision, but this game — one thing that allows us to do that is the depth of our (bull)pen...It puts us in the best position to compete on Wednesday."
Clearfield did show some fight, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the third inning and then two more in the fourth, but still trailed 14-5 entering the fifth. Leading the way for the Falcons was Tyson Walker, who went 2 for 3 from the plate and contributed an RBI.
Just about everyone contributed for the Cavemen, with Walker going 4 for 4 followed by 3-for-4 efforts from both Carpenter and Parry.
With the win American Fork advances to take on Region 4 rival Bingham, a team the Cavemen are very familiar with, having been edged out by the Miners for the region championship. The two teams are the two teams left standing without a loss in the 6A tournament. Clearfield bounces down to the one-loss bracket and will look to stay alive when it takes on Copper Hills.