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High school baseball: Orem beats Maple Mountain in walk-off thriller

In what has seemed to be a regular occurrence as of late, Orem and Maple Mountain had themselves another nail-biting baseball game Friday, with momentum constantly shifting to both teams throughout.

Orem came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh and last inning trailing by a single run. Landon Nix, a substitute known for his defensive play, approached the plate hoping to be the hero for his team.

Down to his last strike, he delivered in a huge way, belting a 3-run home run — his first ever — over the left field wall, saving the season with a 7-5 win and sending Orem through to the next round of the 5A playoffs.

What was going through Nix’s head as he crossed the plate after his series-clinching home run?

“I wanted to find my parents,” Nix said. “They have always been there for me and supported me in everything that I do. I was just so happy, probably the happiest I had ever been in my life.”

Before the home run, the at-bat didn’t seem to be going very well for Nix and he had gotten down to that last strike.

“I was a bit antsy,” Nix said. “I was nervous and I just looked down at the third base line and coach told me to ease up and I just felt a rush of calmness, just let it go.

“I felt like it was going to get out, but I wasn’t sure because I had never hit a home run before.”

Orem had a rough start to the game offensively, with Maple Mountain striking first in the top of the second inning as outfielder Bennett Averett’s RBI single drove Cooper Seamons home, giving the visitors the early 1-0 lead.

However, Orem swiftly responded, leveling the score in the following inning on a Sawyer Slade RBI single.

Struggling against Maple Mountain starting pitcher Blake Carter during their first time through the order, the Tigers didn’t seem to have any answers at the plate, but as the game went on and the batters got to face him more, they started to get more comfortable and were able to get on base more frequently.

Maple Mountain once again took the lead in the top of the fourth with another RBI single, this time by Sawyer Leifson.

Orem wasted no time in responding, taking the lead back the first chance it got with a 2-run single from Maddox Lamoreaux, making the score 3-2.

Another RBI single later in the inning increased the lead to 4-2 and it seemed like Orem was well on its way to a series win.

However, one of the things that is known about Maple Mountain is the fight and never-give-up attitude it has.

“It’s always a back-and-forth affair every time we play them,” Orem head coach Carl Hermansen said.

“They knocked us out of the playoffs three years ago and the past two years we have gotten the better of them so it’s a very intense rivalry between two very good teams.”

In the top of the seventh inning with Maple Mountain down to its final out trailing by two runs and with two runners on base, sophomore Carter Hall stepped up with ice in his veins and drilled a 3-2 pitch deep over the left field wall, giving his team the lead late and the game yet another shift in momentum.

In the end though, it was Orem and Nix who had a game and moment they won’t soon forget.

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