American Fork • Kade Hill felt the ball come off his bat hard. It was a shot to left field, streaking deep.
The American Fork right fielder wasn’t hoping for anything more than to get on base. But the ball kept sailing.
“I didn’t think it was high enough to go out,” Hill said. “It was my first home run of my high school career, actually. It was the perfect time.”
Hill’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth gave the Cavemen a 4-3 extra innings victory and a series sweep of Pleasant Grove, one of its fiercest Region 4 rivals. After a week of high-scoring games, American Fork muscled its way on top of the Vikings in a low-scoring affair.
But the victory was not without a heaping pile of controversy.
Although Hill’s home run was the defining moment, the play that will linger long after is another home run that was called off by the home plate umpire. Pleasant Grove’s Bryce Jones hit a deep shot over the center field wall that would’ve given the Vikings the lead in the sixth, but the official cut the celebration short by ruling Jones did not touch home plate. Coach Darren Henry was livid at what he perceived as a slight. The American Fork coaches were sure the call had been correct afterward, but Henry was equally positive his team had been robbed in a tight game.
“I saw the guy touch home plate — saw it with my own two eyes,” he said. “I thought I was going to get tossed. But I’m proud of the character my guys showed by going back and playing through it.”
Pleasant Grove did eventually take a 3-2 lead in the inning as Riley Erickson hit an RBI double, but American Fork tied it up in the bottom of the sixth as Jeremy Reynolds managed to score on a Vikings error. Both teams went three-and-out in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
The contest was defined through defense and lots of stranded runners. Pleasant Grove ended the game with nine left on base, and the Cavemen had eight.
The Vikings’ Tyler Harmon pitched a complete game, allowing only five hits. Cavemen starter Blake Brailsford allowed nine hits, but his fellow defenders helped shut down the Vikings at opportune times. Kylan Clayton filled in for the last two innings, holding Pleasant Grove scoreless and striking out three.
American Fork took the initial lead with a two-run rally in the second inning, including an RBI triple by B.J. Eldredge.
Pleasant Grove matched up with a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings, but missed opportunities to get more runners home.
American Fork 4, Pleasant Grove 3 (8 innings)
R Kade Hill hits a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth, the first of his career.
• Reliever Kylan Clayton earns the win, striking out three in the final two innings.