OREM — On a day when American Fork rolled past Cyprus winning by the 10-run rule, relief pitcher Nate Rhineer stole the show during a three-batter stretch in the fourth inning.
With the bases loaded and Cyprus threatening to take the lead in the top of the fifth, Rhineer pitched out of the jam he created for himself with walks by striking out three straight batters — including two looking.
American Fork’s bats carried the momentum into the bottom of the fifth inning by scoring seven runs, eventually closing things out an inning later for the 15-5 victory in the 6A one-loss bracket at UVU.
“Nate is a great pitcher, he throws really hard, but he gets really excited,” said American Fork assistant coach Jay Holmstead. “I think he finally got back to his process a little bit and started thinking about the situation and just pitching. He settled in and get himself out of a big jam.”
Shaefer Schoonover pitched the first four innings to pick up the victory as American Fork advances in the 6A one-loss bracket and will play on Monday at 11 a.m. at UVU.
American Fork is a program that always expects to be in the winners bracket of the playoffs, but it embraced its fate on Friday and proved it’s going to be a difficult out the rest of the tournament.
“I think they were pretty disappointed with themselves, and Fremont they have a good team and they beat us,” said Holmstead. “They came with a little different focus today, we don’t have anything lose.”
American Fork scored in every inning and recorded 13 hits off Cyprus’ pitching staff. It also drew four walks and two hit batters, and those base runners put constant pressure on mound.
The Cavemen stole six bases, forced multiple errors on pick off attempts and then scored two additional runs on wild pitches.
“At American Fork we can kind of hang our hat on we’re very aggressive, that’s kind of our stamp. If we’re going to get beat we’re going to get beat, but we’re going to put pressure on you and try and get you to feel it. I don’t know if they felt it today, but that’s the same way we try and play every game,” said Holmstead.Comment on this story
Walker finished with a double and triple, and he tripled in Bulkley in the bottom of the sixth inning for the walk-off win.
All nine American Fork batters reached base safely at least once.
American Fork jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings, but Cyprus responded with four runs in the fourth and then another in the fifth inning as Rhineer walked in a runner with the bases load as the Pirates cut the deficit to 7-5.
Cyprus had a chance to put even more pressure on favored American Fork with no outs, but the big hits never came as Rhineer worked his way out of the jam.