Kearns • Weather wreaked havoc on the quarterfinals of the Class 2A baseball playoffs on Thursday, but after numerous start-time changes and plenty of lead changes, Grand defeated Manti 7-6 to move on to the winners’ bracket finals.
"We hit three times, we did visualization, we sent them to eat first because we planned on playing — we were here at 12," said Grand coach Jared Meador.
StorylinesGrand prevails in a back-and-forth game to reach the Class 2A winners’ bracket finals vs. Beaver.
» Dalton McElhaney gets the win in relief and also drives in two runs.
Class 2A baseball schedule
At Kearns High School
Winners’ bracket finals
» Grand vs. Beaver, 4:30 p.m.
But they didn’t actually play until 4:30 p.m. According to Meador, his kids stayed focused and caught fire after their last of many rounds of batting practice. It showed, as Grand came out strong in the first, but the game soon became a back-and-forth affair.
Down two in the fifth inning, Grand’s Dalton McElhaney replaced starting pitcher Koi Cook and delivered three solid innings of relief. "It was kind of scary going in there to pitch because I wasn’t really ready for it," said McElhaney. "I’d never pitched in state before, but it was good. It was fun."
McElhaney also helped his cause in the fifth with the go-ahead RBI single, just after Tanner White tied it with a two-RBI triple.
The back-and-forth play was still not over.
"Manti played a heck of a game," Meador said.
After two passed balls gave Manti the lead again in the sixth, Grand stayed focused.
"For us, all year it was just, ‘Next pitch, next pitch,’" Meador said.
Cook stepped up to the plate in the sixth with bases loaded and smoked the ball off the right-center wall. His double initially plated three runs, but the play was appealed and one run was waved off and called an out due to a runner missing home plate.
Still, any hopes for a rally by Manti were crushed in the seventh as Brayden Ward caught a sharp liner as he proceeded to step on second for the double play to end the game.
"That’s the part I like about baseball is the back-and-forth," said McElhaney. "It was a little scary, but it was fun."
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