Kearns • Spanish Fork wasn’t about to give up on Hayden Nielsen.
The senior pitcher had left one hanging in the third — just one pitch — that had been blasted over the fence. But in the top of the seventh with the lead, the Dons wouldn’t turn to anyone else to close out.
“Coach asked me how I was feeling,” Nielsen said. “I said, ‘Send me out there, coach.’ ”
Nielsen asked for the ball and got the win, pitching a complete game in an 8-4 win against Carbon in the Class 3A baseball quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Kearns. He needed help and got that, too — a five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth put the Dons well in position to win their fourth straight state title.
Before that, however, they’ll have to face a Snow Canyon team that beat them once last year. The two powerhouse programs will play Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the winner’s bracket semifinal.
“It’ll be a good one,” Nielsen said.
The Dinos made the quarterfinal a good one after ceding a 3-0 lead to the Dons in the first inning. The third was the big turn: Nielsen gave up three singles, and then with two outs, Jaren McCourt launched a homer to right centerfield to give Carbon a 4-3 lead.
Spanish Fork’s offense struggled for the middle portion of the game, but finally responded in the fifth. Senior Kayden Porter led off with a double, then Jake Meservey, Ben Talbot and Tyler Allred also hit safely to rack up the runs on starter Dakota Cisneros.
“Those clutch hits by Allred and Talbot with two outs — that was the biggest moment of the game,” said coach Jim Nelson.
The fifth-inning roll helped build on the initial first-inning lead that was built with Porter’s bat. On the first pitch he saw with two runners on, the first baseman swatted a mammoth home run high over the left field fence.
Snow Canyon tops rival Canyon View
Michael Jensen’s RBI double turned out to be the start of a five-run fifth inning, one that turned the Warriors’ fortunes in a 6-4 victory in the Class 3A quarterfinals against Region 9 rival Canyon View. With the victory, Snow Canyon advanced to Friday’s semifinals at Kearns High for a date with Spanish Fork — the team that beat them last season for the 4A title.
They can’t wait.
“We’ve played them for three years, why not again?” said senior Austin Ovard. “We’d love to get another shot at Spanish Fork.”
Ovard helped take them there, pitching the final three scoreless innings and striking out three of the 11 batters he faced. Starting at shortstop, Ovard also went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to start the rally.
In all, the Warriors racked up six hits in the fifth, slamming starter Zach Brinkerhoff off the mound.
Jensen finished 2-for-3 at the plate, and Riley Gates and Brayden Linde also had a pair of hits.
Juan Diego 14, Grantsville 6 • The Soaring Eagle blasted eight runs in the final two innings, including two steals on home.
Delta 5, Payson 4 • Ryan Petersen slugged a grand slam for the Rabbits, but they still needed a run in the seventh to escape the Lions.
Friday, at Kearns High
11 a.m. • Consolation: Canyon View vs. Juan Diego
1:30 p.m. • Consolation: Carbon vs. Payson/Delta
4:30 p.m. • Winner’s bracket semifinal: Spanish Fork vs. Snow Canyon
7 p.m. • Consolation quarterfinal