4A baseball: Unexpected hero emerges in Salem Hills' win
Kearns • Everybody at Gates Field knew that Mountain View's Dakota Carlson was going to risk the suicide squeeze.
Salem Hill coach Scott Haney was yelling at catcher Mitch Jorgensen to stand up and cover the plate while the infield moved into position. But a perfectly laid bunt sent Carlson sliding into home for the first run.
Not nearly as many predicted Salem Hills' No. 9 hitter would save the season.
But that's what Conner Rollins accomplished with one swing of the bat in a Class 4A winners bracket semifinal. The Skyhawks came from behind in the seventh inning to down Mountain Crest 2-1.
In a game that featured a duel between Mountain View's Jayce Hill and Salem Hills' Colton Hill, the difference came down to the Skyhawks risking everything in the final frame and Rollins' clutch hitting.
"He got big for us, real big for us," Colton Hill said. "We've been in situations like this all year long, and he did what he had to do to win this for us."
Salem Hill loaded the bases with a Jorgensen walk, Junior Centeno getting hit by a pitch and Garrett McEwans beating out a bunt.
Rollins strode to the plate and pulled the trigger on a 1-1 changeup that broke between the shortstop and third baseman gap to drive in two runs.
"I did it for Colton," Rollins said. "He pitched a heck of a one-run game. There's no question we should win those for him."
Colton Hill was dominant on the mound, striking out six. The Bruins never mounted a threat after the fourth with his defense scooping up grounders and snatching fly balls.
"They know what is at stake," Colton Hill said about his defense. "They come to play, make the stops and help me out of any jams."
Jorgensen said that the Skyhawks' pitcher has been doing this all season. His fastball was pinpointed and his curve broke over the plate.
"He's a big-game pitcher, and he got the job done," Jorgensen said.
Colton Hill said the celebration that smothered Rollins after his game-winner was just a taste of what Salem Hills has in store for the next round.
"I have no doubt we're winning a state championship," Colton Hill said.
Class 4A state tournament
Thursday at Utah Valley University
4:30 p.m. • Salem Hills vs. Maple Mountain
Wednesday at Kearns High
1:30 p.m. • Murray vs. Mountain View
4 p.m. • Cyprus vs. Timpanogos
7 p.m. • Winners of first two games