Woods Cross • It still only was the top of the first inning and Paul Ayala already was making his first trip to the mound Tuesday.
A pair of fielding errors and a handful of base hits had put his Wildcats in an early hole. The coach gathered his team around starting pitcher Jake Kocherhans and let his seniors do most of the talking.
Ayala said little more than this: "Four runs isn't going to beat us."
The Provo Bulldogs needed a pair of play-in victories just to make an appearance in the Class 4A state baseball tournament. But after beating Herriman in extra innings just days earlier, Provo looked to be a team finding its stride at the right time.
But the Wildcats answered right back after getting out of a jam.
Woods Cross evened the game at four runs apiece in the bottom half of the inning, taking hold of that momentum to beat Provo 8-6 on Tuesday evening.
"They put the pressure on us, but all year long our team has come from behind," said Wildcats catcher Brady Cowley, who went 3 for 4. "We just keep our composure, put the ball in play and put the pressure on them."
Wildcats first baseman Josh Hunt, who watched his team overcome a four-run first-inning deficit just last week, said he was confident in his teammates' abilities.
"We've played a lot of games where we've had to battle back," said Hunt, who drove in three runs Tuesday.
The Wildcats built a 7-5 lead after six innings. With two Provo base runners on and only one out, Ayala pulled Kocherhans. The Bulldogs loaded the bases and cut the deficit by a run before reliever Josh Cowley got his team out of the jam.
Josh Cowley, like his brother, also finished 3 for 4 in the win.
The Wildcats next face a Timpanogos team that shut out Mountain Crest.
"The win is very important for us," Hunt said. "We only have a few pitchers, so we don't want to run them out and have to play eight games to get to the state championship."
All games at 4 p.m.
• Westlake at Salem Hills
• Mtn. View at Cyprus
• Timpanogos at Woods Cross
• Maple Mtn. at Murray
• Roy at Bountiful
• Olympus at Logan
• Provo at Mtn. Crest
• Clearfield at Sky View