Spanish Fork • Maple Mountain’s Mitch Holmes tied the game, Kade Paulsen saved the game and Nik Mafi won it.
Beating Spanish Fork is never a one-man game.
Mafi drove in what proved to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th inning to help the Golden Eagles beat Spanish Fork 7-6 on Tuesday afternoon.
"I told the boys that was a roller-coaster ride because there were some rushes along with some ups and downs associated with that but wow, the boys just stuck it out," said Maple Mountain coach Gary Miner. "Six of the seven teams are still fighting for a playoff spot in our region, so even though we’re at the top with Spanish Fork, this was huge for us."
While Maple Mountain couldn’t have won the game without contributions from Holmes, Paulsen and Mafi, it couldn’t have taken over first place in Region 8 without the effort of Jaren Hall and Bryson Van Tassell.
Hall singled in the 11th, stole second and advanced to third when the throw to second skipped into center field. Van Tassell’s contribution wasn’t quite as noticeable but was no less spectacular.
Spanish Fork appeared to have the game won. Fans started to pack up their blankets and chairs in the bottom of the seventh when the Dons recorded two quick outs and had a 5-3 lead but then the unthinkable happened. Mafi started the rally with an infield single and Van Tassell reached on an error.
Jake Mafi hit a ground ball that looked like it would end the game but Van Tassell changed the game with his hustle. When Spanish Fork shortstop Nic Roberts fielded the ball and flipped it to Cooper Thorpe at second, Van Tassell’s slide beat the throw.
Holmes then hit a two-run single to tie the game and Conner Ellis promptly gave the Golden Eagles the lead when he singled to right.
Maverick Buffo came up clutch for the Dons in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, he singled in a run to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Spanish Fork nearly won it in the eighth. The Dons had runners on first and second with two outs when Matt Creer hit a sharp ground ball into the 5-6 hole but Paulsen made a sliding backhand stop, popped to his feet and gunned down Creer at first to keep the game going.
It seemed only fitting that Paulsen picked up the win in relief. He pitched the final two innings and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 11th to help the Golden Eagles escape.
Roberts had three of Spanish Fork’s seven hits. Canon Minor pitched three scoreless innings in relief and both Paulsen and Van Tassell had two hits for Maple Mountain, which is now a game up on Spanish Fork. The two teams play again on Thursday.
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