I think we just came out aggressive, and aggressive on a good pitcher and hit the ball around. —Jordan coach Chad Fife
OREM — In the three years since winning the 2014 state championship, Jordan hasn’t been able to stay in the winners bracket past the first week and has therefore bowed out of the playoffs pretty early.
In fact, in the past two years Jordan has won just one playoff game.
That disappointment led to an extremely focused effort in a 10-3 win over Skyridge in Wednesday’s 5A winners bracket game at UVU.
“We were just real fired up, ready to be here. The last few years haven’t worked in our favor, we’re just fired up and excited to be here,” said Jordan rightfielder Conner Hughes.
Hughes’ three-run homer highlighted a five-run third inning for the Beetdiggers, who never looked back as it tacked on two more runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
That was plenty of run support for Jordan starter Drew Jones, who struck out five hitters and benefitted from three double plays from his infield.
With the win, Jordan advances to Friday’s 5A championship at 11 a.m. It will face Olympus, which beat Skyridge in the one-loss bracket to advance to the title game.
The ‘Diggers will give the game ball to ace pitcher Gage Edwards on Friday, a perfect scenario after winning their first four tourney games.
“It’s the perfect set up. Perfect for him, and he’s worked his guts out (and he) is a great student,” said Jordan coach Chad Fife.
An aggressive mindset helped Jordan punch its ticket to the championship.
Jordan came up empty in the first two innings despite putting runners in scoring position, but it really opened things up in the third inning.
“I think we just came out aggressive, and aggressive on a good pitcher and hit the ball around,” said Fife.
Hunter Swapp and Noah Hennings got the big third inning going with back-to-back singles, with Hughes following with a three-run home run to right field. It was his seventh dinger of the year, and first to the opposite field.
“I knew they watched me pull balls all last game and knew I needed to look away and good things happen,” said Hughes. “I’ve heard people say I have no power the other way so it’s good to hit one the other way.”
Three batters later Edwards stretched the lead to 4-0 with an RBI single, and then Jordan pushed the lead to 5-0 on a balk.
In the fourth Jake Shaver led off the inning with a triple, promptly scoring on a wild pitch during the next at-bat. Jordan extended the lead to 7-0 on a throwing error by the second baseman a couple batters later.
Two more Skyridge errors in the fifth inning allowed Jordan to score three more times to push the lead to 10-1.
Skyridge’s only runs came on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning and then on a two-run double by Klayton Driggs in the seventh.
In the second 5A game at UVU, Ben Delis scattered two runs and six hits over seven innings as Olympus beat Skyridge 5-2 for its sixth straight victory since losing in the 5A first round.
Nick Ward drove in three runs to lead Olympus, while AJ Affleck homered and drove in two runs.