To the credit, the Blue Sox didn’t dwell on Wednesday’s heartbreaking 6-5 loss to the Grays in Game 1 of their best-of-three series.
Instead, Scott Madsen was unstoppable and Smithfield kept its season alive with a 11-4 victory over Gate City in the Northern Utah League playoffs on Friday night at Richard V. Hansen Baseball Park.
The game was supposed to be played Thursday, but a heavy rain storm, coupled with several close lightning strikes, forced play to be called until Friday night. Smithfield held a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when the contest was postponed.
Madsen has shined in a few games against Gate City this summer, and that trend continued in a huge way. The former Ogden Raptors shortstop homered twice, doubled, walked and finished with a whopping eight RBIs and four runs to help Smithfield stave off elimination.
Pocatello pitcher Connor Breding walked or plunked the first three batters he faced in the bottom of the second, and Madsen made him pay with a grand slam over the fence in center.
Madsen got the best of Breding again one inning later as he came through with a bases-clearing double with two outs. The former Preston High star advanced to third base on the throw and would eventually score on a wild pitch to give the Blue Sox a 9-4 lead.
Madsen welcomed Gate City relief pitcher Rhys Pope into the game with a lead-off homer to center in the sixth. Smithfield would eventually score a second run in the inning on a Gate City error.
While Madsen was getting the job done at the plate, another Preston High product was eliminating any chance of a Gate City comeback. Colton Draney pitched the final four innings for the Blue Sox and kept the Grays off the scoreboard. The southpaw gave up three singles — only one in the final three frames — struck out six and walked two.
The Grays plated all four of their runs in the top of the third to pare their deficit at the time to 5-4. James Prockish and Carson Wong both belted two-run doubles for the visitors.
The Blue Sox, who had the tying run at third base in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s loss, struck first in the bottom of the second on a Zach Hansen RBI single. Hansen also doubled twice for Smithfield, which got two runs from Mike Hart and Chase Mercado.
Gate City will now host Smithfield on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the right to square off against reigning NUL champion Providence in a best-of-three championship series. The Wolverines will host the winner of Saturday’s showdown Monday night at Max L. Johnson Memorial Field.