HomeSports5A Baseball: Spanish Fork building momentum for state run

5A Baseball: Spanish Fork building momentum for state run

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Spanish Fork’s Brecken Anderson slides into home plate during a 5A baseball regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Riley Lambson throws a pitch during a 5A baseball regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Will Dart dives back to first base as the ball gets away from a Bonneville player in a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork first baseman Matai Johnson gets tied up with a Bonneville base runner after an errant throw during a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Matai Johnson, right, is greeted by teammates after scoring a run in a 5A baseball regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Will Dart, left, dives back to first base ahead of a pick-off attempt against Bonneville in a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Will Dart takes a swing against Bonneville in a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork baseball coaches watch the action during a 5A regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork first baseman Matai Johnson handles a throw during a 5A regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Riley Lambson delivers a pitch against Bonneville in a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Will Dart slides into second base against Bonneville in a 5A baseball regional playoff game on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork’s Garrett Field (7) is greeted by a teammate after scoring a run in a 5A baseball regional playoff game against Bonneville on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Darnell Dickson, Daily Herald
















The Spanish Fork baseball legacy was built by long-time coaches Jim “Shoe” Nelson and his brother, Jeff “Whites” Nelson. Jim’s son, Casey, known as “Gub,” continued that legacy for nine years before stepping down after the 2023 season.

The eight state championships (1988, 1992, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2021) and parade of All-State players are well known throughout the state.

Hadley Thorpe was a member of one of those championship teams (2009) and is in his first season as head coach of the Dons.

He knows the expectations are high in Spanish Fork.

“It’s been awesome,” said Hadley after the Dons routed Bonneville 10-0 in five innings in the 5A Regionals on Monday. “It’s a dream come true to be back at my alma mater. I couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff or to do it with a better team. Our brand of baseball is just trying to have fun and when it’s all said and done, it’s a game here. We like to be aggressive and get people in motion. It’s a game and we that’s what we love to do.”

Spanish Fork had a slow start to the season and finished 6-8 in Region 7 play. But the Dons have come on strong lately, including winning the Regional series with Bonneville 2-0 for four straight victories.

“One big thing we try to do is show the tradition we’ve had here and build on that,” Hadley said. “We want to put our own spin on things but also show the foundation that’s been laid in the past. The kids really embrace it and we have great community support that really feeds into it.”

Senior Will Dart has been a fixture at shortstop since his freshman season. He said he still speaks to his former coach, Casey Nelson, a couple of times a week.

“I love Gub to death,” Dart said. “He had to step away but we couldn’t have hired a better guy. Thorpe came in and brought his guys and they’ve taught us how to fight. We’ve had our ups and downs this year but they’ve taught us how to compete and play Spanish Fork baseball. I love these coaches and will do anything for them.”

The Dons did plenty to beat Bonneville on Monday, putting four runs on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Matai Johnson opened with a double and Spanish Fork added five more singles in the inning from Dart, Cal Nielsen, Brecken Anderson and Riley Lambson. The Dons took a 6-0 lead in the fourth, scoring on a throwing error and an RBI single by Nixon Warren.

Bonneville walked in a pair of runs in the fifth and Nielsen hit a sharp single past second base into right field that scored two runs to end the game via the 10-run rule.

Lambson struck out five of the first Bonneville batters he faced and finished with nine strikeouts in five innings of work, allowing just three singles.

“I was throwing a lot of fastballs,” Lambson said. “We learned from the last game that they like to swing at high fastballs. And my curveball was working and they were chasing it. So I was just pushing through, throwing strikes and doing my job, then let my guys work behind me on defense.”

Spanish Fork finished with 11 hits with two each from Dart, Neilsen, Anderson and Lambson.

The Dons (14-13), the No. 11 seed in the 5A tournament, move on to the Super Regionals next week against Region 7 foe Salem Hills, the No. 6 seed. The two teams split the regular season series with Spanish Fork winning on the road 5-2 and the Skyhawks returning the favor with a 9-3 victory at Nelson Field.

“I think Spanish Fork baseball is a lot of history and tradition and fight,” Dart said. “That’s just what we do. My little brother (Sammy) is a freshman this year and my older brother (Zac) graduated a few years ago. My freshman year we won state and at one point we lost eight straight games but we came together. We’ve got the talent. It’s always a good game when we play Salem. It’ll be a good series.”

 



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