KEARNS — On the day before Mother’s Day, Morgan Albrecht said his mom was there in spirit when he took the mound in the 3A state championship on Saturday.
His mom, Annicka, died of cancer in February, two days before Richfield’s boys basketball team lost in the state championship to Morgan.
With Richfield’s baseball team back in another championship on Saturday, Albrecht felt the pressure of the moment but said, “I felt like my mom was with me through the whole thing,” as he led Richfield to the 9-3 victory over Summit Academy at Kearns High School.
Albrecht pitched 4 2/3 innings, only allowing one run before giving way to relievers Max Robinson and then Leif Robinson who closed the door on Summit Academy as Richfield won its first baseball state championship since 1992.
“It’s a good feeling, all the hard work paid off. It’s a relaxing feeling, not so tense anymore,” said Albrecht.
Albrecht leads the state in home runs this season, but even though his bat was quiet in the championship he made a big impact on the mound on a day when Richfield’s players wore purple socks to pay tribute to his mom. Albrecht struck out four batters and only allowed four hits.
Richfield went 17-1 against 3A teams this season and the combination of dominant hitting and pitching was the big reason why.
“When you can go out and hit like we do it helps the pitching staff out so much, but we have three dominant pitchers. We know if we get five runs we’re going to win this game, so with Morgan out here dealing like he did it gives you that much more confidence,” said Richfield’s Emmitt Hafen, who picked up the win on Thursday.
Summit Academy beat Union 8-7 in Saturday morning’s elimination game to set up a rematch with Richfield. It lost to Richfield 8-4 the day before.
Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start at the plate on Saturday with Richfield leading only 1-0 after the second inning. In the third inning, however, Richfield started to pull away.
Trey Roundy and Jake Shepherd each recorded RBI singles in the third inning to stretch the lead to 3-0. Brittyn Riddle reached base on an error to lead off the fourth inning, and after four straight hits by Payson Reed, Hafen, Albrecht and Nate Winters the Wildcats' lead swelled to 7-0.
Hafen provided the big hit with an RBI double to left field that would’ve likely been a home run had the wind not been blowing in.
“All my guys can hit, one all the way down to No. 9. That’s the secret, when you get a team this good together and they play as a team and they’re pretty unselfish, it’s whatever it takes. So if somebody has a down day somebody else steps in,” said Richfield coach Faron Reed.
Summit Academy scored a run in the top of the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Mark Romero to make it 7-1 game.
Richfield pushed the lead back to 9-1 with a run in the fifth and sixth innings, finishing the state tournament averaging 10 runs per game.1 comment on this story
In the top of the seventh Summit Academy put a little pressure on Richfield by loading the bases with two out, and scoring on an error and a walk to make it a 9-3 game. With the bases still loaded Hafen recorded the final out on a blooper to shortstop, and in celebration he heaved the ball over the left field fence before being mobbed by teammates.
Reminded afterward that he’s supposed to save the game ball, he said, “Yeah, I know, but I’ve never done this.”
In fairness to Hafen, nobody at Richfield has done it in the past 25 years, either. It’s a ball that belongs in the Richfield trophy case nonetheless, which was why several young Richfield fans were busy looking in the weeds behind the left field fence at Kearns while the players posed for pictures with their family on the diamond.