High school baseball: American Fork survives scare to win Game 1 of 6A state championship series over Riverton

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and needing just one more out, American Fork senior reliever Tanner Ellery threw the biggest pitch of the 6A baseball state championship between No. 3 Riverton and No. 5 American Fork Friday at Utah Valley University.

Ellery’s final pitch resulted in a strikeout, and the Cavemen defeated the Silverwolves 3-2 in Game 1 of a best of three series.

“All I knew, I just had to throw a strike,” Ellery said. “I trust my defense. They’ve made plays for me all year.

“I don’t think we’ve made a single error when I’ve been pitching. All I knew, I had to get the ball to the plate and get it to one of my guys and they’d make a play for me.”

The senior pitcher was inserted into the game with a man on second, a one-run lead and his team needing him to produce two outs.

Ellery said when his coach gave him the ball to close things out, he told him it was his time to come into the game and end it.

He did just what he was asked, inching his team ever closer to the state title.

Both teams entered Friday night’s matchup following a day of rest after each needed just one game Wednesday to move on in the final round of double elimination bracket play.

The Cavemen defeated No. 9 Farmington 12-2 in five innings, setting up their meeting with the Silverwolves, who beat No. 7 Pleasant Grove 3-1.

Game 1 Friday between American Fork and Riverton was every bit its billing.

“What a great ballgame,” American Fork head coach Jared Ingersoll said. “Riverton’s a very quality opponent. They do a great job. Their coaches are awesome. I’m just super proud of the way our guys stepped up.”

American Fork sophomore Dax Watts got the Cavemen on the board with a two-run bomb over the right field fence in the second inning.

American Fork hit another home run, this time a solo shot, in the next inning off the bat of TCU commit and coach Ingersoll’s son, Fisher Ingersoll.

The Silverwolves scored both of their runs in the fourth before threatening to do more damage in the fifth.

With runners on first and third and only one out, senior starting pitcher Kaden Carpenter took matters into his own hands, striking out the next two batters to end the inning and spoil the Silverwolves’ golden opportunity.

“I’m super proud of Carpenter on the mound,” Ingersoll said. “We turned the reins over to Ellery and he did an outstanding job, coming up huge in a pressure situation. Our defense stood tall enough.”

Carpenter knew they faced a big challenge Friday night.

“They have great hitting,” Carpenter said of Riverton. “We knew that it was going to take every ounce of our team and everyone had to fill their roles to complete the job today.”

Carpenter and the Cavemen still aren’t satisfied.

“The job’s not finished,” he said. “We’ve got to come out here and finish the job.”

The win puts American Fork one game away from repeating as state champions, something the school has not done since 1985.

Game 2 of the three game series will be played Saturday at UVU beginning at 1:30 p.m.

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