HomeSportsSalem Hills baseball blanks rival Spanish Fork in 5A playoffs

Salem Hills baseball blanks rival Spanish Fork in 5A playoffs


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Brian E. Preece, Herald correspondent

Salem Hills players celebrate after the 5A playoff game against Spanish Fork in Salem on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Though the scoreboard in the end read 6-0 in favor of the home team Salem Hills, the game between the No. 6 seeded Skyhawks and rival Spanish Fork, the No. 11 seed, was in reality much closer than that.

With the shutout victory, Salem Hills takes a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three 5A Super Regional (second round).

Salem Hills did push two runs across the plate in the fourth and fifth innings, and then finally broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a bases-clearing double by Corbin Gull. The Skyhawks tacked on one more thanks to an RBI single by Alex Cloward and that was more than enough offense for pitcher Kaleb Holman as he continued to mow down Don hitters going the distance to earn the win.

Holman struck out five and walked just one Don batter, but mostly pitched to contact and induced three double plays to end any possible scoring threats by Spanish Fork.

“I was pitching to contact,” Holman said. “We’ve got a great defense, especially up the middle and we turned some double plays.”

For Holman, winning this game was a bit of a redemption because the last time he faced the Dons, Spanish Fork came out on top.

“It’s awesome,” Holman said of getting the playoff win.”I was on the mound last time when they beat us. So it was good to get a little revenge and get back out there.”

Holman effectively changed speeds and kept the Don hitters off balance.

“The key was changing speeds and getting them out front a lot too,” added Holman. “They try to catch up to the fastball but they’re not looking for that slider.”

Salem Hills head coach Scott Haney also praised his crafty southpaw.

“I felt really good about Kaleb Holman’s performance today,” Haney said. “And then some timely hitting for sure.”

Haney was definitely pleased that Salem Hills finally broke loose in the sixth inning to effectively put the game away.

“That three-run double was huge, it gave us a nice cushion for sure.”

As the sixth seed, Salem Hills got a bye to the second round of the tournament while Spanish Fork swept No. 22 Bonneville in its first round series on Monday and Tuesday. Still, Haney was concerned that the long layoff, along with playing a team from its own league with a strong tradition, might be problematic for his team.

“It’s really nice to get this first win,” said Haney. “Of course, you want the bye but when you sit out a week, you never know what you’re going to come out and do, especially playing against a region foe. And this region is really good.”

Haney was also complimentary of Spanish Fork’s starting pitcher Will Dart, who shut down the Skyhawk bats for a good chunk of the contest.

I thought their guy, Will Dart, really pitched well,” said Haney. “He got out of a couple of jams early.”

Besides Gull’s double, Mason Ward also doubled and drove in a run. Holman himself scored a run while Kasen Averett knocked in a run and scored one himself.

Cal Nielsen went 2-for-2 and drew a walk for Spanish Fork.

The two teams will play Friday at Salem Hills with the second game of the series starting at 1 p.m. Spanish Fork would have to win that game to force a third and deciding game that would immediately follow.

Maple Mountain 1 Clearfield 0: 5A No. 2 seed Maple Mountain got a scare but survived to hand Clearfield a 1-0 defeat in game one of its best-of-three series against the Falcons. Chase Johnston was brilliant on the mound throwing a 3-hit shutout. Colby Warren provided the offense with a triple and a run for the Golden Eagles.

Springville 9, Jordan 7: 5A No. 4 seed Springville outlasted No. 13 seed Jordan 9-7 to take a 1-0 lead in its best-of-three series against the Beetdiggers. Reid Deede and Ashtyn Tate scored two runs and swiped two bases each to pace the Red Devil attack.

Alta 11 Orem 10: 5A No. 12 seed Alta scored four runs in the top of the seventh to stun No. 5 seed Orem and win game one of its best-of-three series against the Golden Tigers, 11-10. Orem had led 7-0 after two innings before the Hawks mounted their comeback.

American Fork 11 Weber 1: The returning 6A champions and 2024 No. 1 6A seed American Fork cruised to a 11-1 win over No. 16 seed Weber ending the game in the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule. Cooper Jones went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in. CJ Mascaro started on the hill and also went 2-for-4 from the plate.

Corner Canyon 7 Skyridge 5: 6A No. 10 Corner Canyon took game one of its best-of-three series vs. No. 7 seed Skyridge, 7-5. Isaac Pickle led Skyridge with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI.

Fremont 3 Pleasant Grove 2: 6A No. 6 6A seed Fremont eked out a 3-2 victory over No. 11 Pleasant Grove to go up 1-0 in its best-of-three series.

Mountain Ridge 2 Lone Peak 1: Despite Trey Robinson going 2-for-3, the No. 14 seeded Knights fell short in the first game of their series against 6A No. 3 seed Mountain Ridge by a 2-1 score.


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