6A bracket play continued for the third day on Wednesday at UCCU Ballpark. Here are the results:
Riverton 6, American Fork 2
After losing their first game of bracket play against Syracuse by a single run, the reigning 6A champion Riverton Silverwolves found themselves standing on the precipice of elimination.
But as soon as the game was over, Riverton head coach Jay Applegate and his staff exhorted their players to move on to the next game.
Three days after the loss, the Silverwolves now stand one win away from a consecutive appearance in the 6A championship series.
With a 6-2 victory over American Fork Wednesday at UCCU Ballpark, Riverton made its way through the losers end of 6A Bracket 2, forcing an “if necessary” game with the Cavemen.
The rematch will take place Thursday at 4 p.m., with the winner moving onto the championship series, which will start on Friday.
“(We) put our backs against the wall,” Applegate said. “We’ve got some pretty gritty kids and it was win and move on, try to survive.”
The sixth-seeded Silverwolves never trailed Wednesday and led by as many as five runs. Thanks to a complete defensive performance from Riverton, the Cavemen didn’t manage to get themselves on the board until the top of sixth inning, when the Silverwolves already found themselves with the 5-run lead.
Riverton’s Remington Robbins had a strong day on the mound with three strikeouts and a 69% strike percentage, but as fatigue began to set in over the final two half-innings and as Robbins was nearing the 85-pitch count threshold, the senior conceded his first (and only) two earned runs of the game.
In the top of the seventh, with a 6-2 scoreline, no outs and two runners on base, the Riverton pitching staff elected to call freshman McKade Ortiz — who’d yet to throw a pitch at the varsity level — to the mound.
Ortiz got the three necessary outs for the Silverwolves in just nine pitches, clinching the victory for Riverton.
“It was a little scary going in there,” Ortiz admitted. “(Alex Vernon) was trying to keep me happy and confident. I just went out there and tried to throw strikes.”
Applegate was complimentary of the two pitchers he used on the day.
“(Ortiz) is a competitor and we trusted him in that situation,” Applegate said. “Hats off to him, he did a great job …Robbins, holy cow, what day he had.”
The pitchers were aided by strong infield and outfield play, as American Fork still mustered 11 hits but couldn’t make much of them.
The Cavemen finished the game with 10 total players left on base.
Riverton was solid at the plate, finishing with 18 quality at-bats. Robbins and Vernon each finished with a game-high two RBIs, while Zach Edwards recorded two doubles for the Silverwolves.
Cooper Jones finished as American Fork’s standout hitter, going 3 for 4 with a triple and a double to his name.
With the two teams set to share the diamond again on Thursday, Applegate said his team will continue to employ a short-term memory mentality.
“Today’s over with,” Applegate said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re going to come back here and try to do our best to take it one pitch at a time, lay it on the line and we’ll see where the chips fall.”
Mountain Ridge 10, Skyridge 7
Riverton and American Fork won’t be the only teams playing an extra game on Thursday.
With an impressively strong surge late in the game, Mountain Ridge defeated top-seeded Skyridge 10-7 Wednesday evening to hand the Falcons their first loss of bracket play and force a rematch, the winner of which will have a chance to play for a state title.
A game that looked to be a runaway win for Skyridge quickly became a neck-and-neck race over the middle innings.
The Sentinels, who trailed 5-1 after three innings, went on a 5-1 scoring stretch of their own to knot the game at six heading into the seventh inning — where they took the game over.
Mountain Ridge scored four runs in the top of the seventh, highlighted by a 2-run RBI shot to center field by Tahj Henrie and an RBI double by Austin Ellis.
Skyridge managed to snag a run in the bottom of the seventh off an RBI single from Ty Evans, but that was all it could muster, as Mountain Ridge’s Remington Edwards caught the third and final out on a fly to right field to end the game.
All told, the Sentinels outscored Skyridge 9-2 from the fourth inning on.
Henrie finished with a game-high four RBIs on two hits, while Ellis finished the night with three RBIs.
Braxton Miller was the hero on the mound, pitching in the sixth and seventh innings and throwing strikes on 60% of pitches.
Miller allowed just one earned run, giving the Sentinels the room to make their late push.
With each team getting a win over the other in bracket play, Thursday’s matchup, which will take place at 7 p.m. at UCCU Ballpark, will be the decider of what’s become a de facto 3-game series between the two squads.