It was anything but easy, but Mountain Crest’s American Legion program will certainly take the end result.
Blacksmith Fork saw its 7-0 lead completely evaporate in the opening round of the American Legion state tournament, but the Trappers got a huge two-out RBI single from Cooper Murphy in the top of the seventh and they held on to beat Alta, 8-7, late Friday night at Salt Lake Community College.
The game didn’t start until about 10 p.m. due to a lightning delay in the previous game, and the game ended just barely before midnight when Blacksmith Fork reliever Ian McArthur retired the side on the bottom of the seventh.
It didn’t appear there would be any need for drama in the early going as the Trappers jumped out to a 7-0 lead heading into the home half of the second. Blacksmith Fork roughed up Alta starting pitcher Jordan Smith, who gave up seven runs in just one and one-third innings.
The Trappers plated six of those runs on four hits, three walks and two Hawk errors in the second inning alone. Caleb Archibald and Tadon Burbank had RBI singles for Blacksmith Fork, which got an RBI double from Murphy for the final run of the frame.
To their credit, the Hawks came storming back. Alta scored twice in the second and three times in the third to pare its deficit to 7-5. Parker Joos smacked a two-run triple in the bottom of the third.
Alta then pushed one run across in the fifth and sixth frames to pull even. The Hawks scored the tying run on a two-out single.
The Trappers were undaunted, though, as Burbank led off the top of the seventh with a double to left field. Alta pitcher Kache Williams retired the next two Blacksmith Fork batters, but Murphy came through with a run-scoring single to right with two strikes. Williams was able to keep Alta in the game with his strong performance on the mound.
Burbank, Murphy and Archibald had two base knocks each for the Trappers, who are the No. 1 seed from the north division. Burbank and Hayden Simper scored pair of runs apiece, while Murphy and Archibald each drove in two runs.
Archibald pitched the first six innings for the Trappers, who extended their winning streak to 14. He gave up six hits, struck out seven and walked three.
Up next for Blacksmith Fork is a showdown against Tooele on Saturday at 7 p.m. at SLCC.
BEARS 3, TITANS 0
Sky View’s American Legion program hung tough with a much more experienced opponent, but Tooele County scored two runs on a bloop single in the bottom of the fifth to take control.
North Cache struggled offensively as it was limited to a pair singles — one by Noah Ferrin, and the other by Cole Watterson. Ferrin, who started the game with a lead-off single, is the Titans’ only senior-to-be who played Friday.
North Cache, the No. 4 seed from the north, was able to advance its lead-off batter to second base with no outs in the first and second frames, but was ultimately unable to capitalize.
“Tooele, they didn’t seem like they had a whole lot of energy, and so I think if we were able to get those two runs across in the first couple of innings, yeah it changes the game completely, and (it allows us) to do some different things,” North Cache coach Todd Phillips said.
Tooele County’s pitcher settled down after those first two innings and kept North Cache at bay with his off-speed pitches, Phillips said. He struck out nine.
North Cache pitcher Joey Cortez kept his team within striking distance as he limited the Bears to six singles in six complete innings. Cortez fanned five, walked two and plunked two others.
“The first couple of innings he left the ball up a little bit, but we were able to play some good defense behind him,” Phillips said. “And by the fourth inning, he kind of got into a groove. In those fourth and fifth innings, I think he had four strikeouts. ... It was really good for Joey to be able to get that confidence going and get after them.”
The Titans only committed one error against the Bears, who have players from at least two different high schools on their roster. Tooele County is the No. 5 seed from the south.
“I’m proud of how we played defensively,” Phillips said.
North Cache will now square off against Alta in an elimination game Saturday morning at 10 o’clock at SLCC.