Orem • It wasn’t much use calling in the Maple Mountain baseball team.
The Golden Eagles’ season just had ended in a bitterly disappointing 14-10 loss Friday. As their coaches yelled across the field for them to come accept the Class 4A state runner-up trophy, they didn’t move from their huddle in shallow left field.
They just were savoring a few more moments together, as a team, even if it was a moment of defeat.
“It’s kind of hard to know I might not see these guys again,” senior K.J. Hall said. “They’re all great guys. It was just that kind of team.”
Maple Mountain’s baseball program grew from a 4-18 doormat to a 4A powerhouse in four short years. The Golden Eagles were two wins away from proving they were the best in the state, an honor that went to the school just down the highway.
The painful part was that even as their season ticked away, the players felt themselves coming even closer to the title they coveted. Salem Hills got a 13-3 jump on Maple Mountain by the fifth inning, but the Golden Eagles rallied back.
A pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth kept the Eagles from succumbing to the run rule. Then the Skyhawks felt the heat on their heels as a furious five-run stretch in the sixth shrunk the gap. MaKay Nelson, Jake Mafi, Ivan Brooks, Jonah Flinders and Hall each notched runs — four of the players seniors. It felt very much like the comebacks the team had made during the season, one of the reasons why the group was so fun to be a part of.
“We told them nobody has to hit the ball 700 feet,”Maple Mountain coach Gary Miner said. “Don’t let circumstances dictate how you play. Don’t quit. Just play like you know how to play.”
Maple Mountain threw just about all it had at Salem Hills: four pitchers, two pinch-hitters, four pinch-runners. The team was waiting for just one more great play even in the bottom of the seventh. Everyone from Arik Mack, the BYU-bound ace, to Bridger Adams, the vocal leader, had rally caps on and were ready to go the distance.
“I wish we had just kept it going just a little longer,” Mack said. “We thought we could do it.”
A closer look
• The Golden Eagles rack up 10 runs on only 7 hits.
• Four pitchers see action in the defeat.
• Kaden Poulson and Jake Mafi each have two hits.