PLEASANT GROVE — Baseball games are always big whenever Pleasant Grove squares off against American Fork, with Wednesday's 10-inning thriller proving no exception. Ending things was Pleasant Grove's Jake Fryer, who managed a hit just inside the third base line to score the winning run in what was a typically hard-fought and intense game.
"Every time we play them it seems to go like this," said Pleasant Grove coach Darrin Henry. "American Fork is obviously a great program that is coached extremely well, and we just know games like this are going to come down to making key plays when we can."
As mentioned, the big key play made on Wednesday came courtesy of Fryer.
With runners on first and second base, and with just one out, the senior right-fielder was ahead in the count and was looking fastball. He got the pitch he was looking for and hit it hard to get it just past the defense while keeping it just inside the third base line for the game-winning RBI hit.
"It felt great. I just put my best swing on it and things worked out," Fryer said. "It was actually my second walk-off hit this year, so those are great to have and fortunately I was put into a position to get it."
Although the situation was intense, Fryer noticed a gesture Henry gave that helped relax him.
"I just looked over and he was smiling and almost laughing it seemed," Fryer said. "He let me know that he knew I was going to get it and it was great to have that confidence in me."
The Cavemen jumped out to a 1-0 lead through three innings before Fryer hit a sacrifice fly to tie things in the bottom of the fourth. The next run scored came in the bottom of the sixth when Ty Barker hit a ball over the left-center fence in what looked to possibly be the game-winning hit.
"Like I said, that team doesn't quit and that's what makes them so tough," Henry said. "Fortunately our pitcher rebounded really well and we were able to finish this thing out in extra innings."
That pitcher was Cole Blackhurst, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, and despite yielding a run, pitched three scoreless innings to finish out the win.
"It was great that we were able to use just two pitchers today because we have two more against these guys," Henry said. "I'm just proud of how we all battled through and came out on top to get this one."Comment on this story
The win improves Pleasant Grove to 3-1 in Region 4 play while dropping the Cavemen to 2-2. It was a good momentum-builder for what's ahead and a good sign the Vikings are improved from last season when they finished an atypical 4-8 in region play.
"We have a tough region, so we embrace every win, but we know we have to keep grinding," Henry said. "We didn't get that first-round home game in the playoffs because of how we finished in region, so our whole goal is to get it this time and we're positioning ourselves well to get it. We just have to keep it going."