Orem • If it was Riverton’s first baseball championship, and for that alone, the Silverwolves’ triumph over the field at the Class 6A state tournament would be remembered.
But plenty of other reasons will surely prevail upon the minds of Riverton fans in the years to come after the ‘Wolves beat defending champ American Fork twice on Saturday to claim the 6A crown.
How about a grand slam from sophomore Kaden Miller in an 8-3 win to finish off the title?
Or maybe a triple play executed by the Silverwolves in the fourth inning to stifle one attempted comeback by the Cavemen?
And there’s Jay Applegate, Riverton’s only baseball coach in school history, finally summiting the large school division in a season that saw him sidelined at the beginning of the schedule with a broken femur.
“Nobody has any idea of what the coaching staff and these players have gone through, no one,” said Applegate, who assembled his assistants around him for postgame interviews on the field of Utah Valley University.
“The determination and the grit. These guys, it’s a testament to what these guys are on and off the field,” he added.
Riverton (25-8) came into the day behind the eight ball.
American Fork (25-8) had knocked off the Silverwolves 3-2 on Friday night to enter the last day of the season with a clear advantage in the double-elimination tournament.
But the Cavemen lost control of the first game on Saturday when Riverton plated eight runs in the second inning. For a time, an American Fork major comeback seemed to becoming a reality as the Cavemen cut the lead to two with a six-run rally of their own in the third.
The score was 9-8 in that contest when Riverton then exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth and eventually forced the 6A bracket into a winner-take-all finale following an 18-8 game that ended via the 10-run mercy run in the fifth.
“Man, this team’s been working for this for freakin’ four years now, since I got here,” said Riverton senior Kaden Miller, who was 5 for 5 in the first game of the day, including six RBIs and a pair of doubles into the left-center field gap. “I knew the eight runs we put up in the second wasn’t enough with the powerful offense from AF, so I knew our pitchers had to continue to throw strikes and we had to continue to put up runs.”
And continue they did in the decisive finale.
Riverton put the pressure on in a variety of ways in the top of the third, including a bunt hit from Sam Beck that loaded the bases. That first set up a two-run double from Tyler Barton to right, which was followed by Miller reaching base after being hit by a pitch.
Then came the wallop of the day.
Silverwolves sophomore Zach Edwards ripped a grand slam far beyond the left-center fence and suddenly Riverton was up 6-0.
“Oh my gosh. All I saw was a beach ball,” said Edwards, relating the moment before impact. “I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve been saving it for this game and it’s time for me to put one out.’
“I hit it and the first thing I said was, ‘Get the F out, ball,’ he added. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but that’s what I said. It left and adrenaline was high.”
More heroics were to come an inning later, when American Fork had already scored a run off a Dax Watts’ single and had runners on first and second with no outs.
That’s when Davis Andrews lined a shot that was snagged by Beck, Riverton’s shortstop, who then beat the runner at second to the bag for another out. Beck then quickly threw behind the runner at first to complete the triple play.
“Oh, jeez. Sam Beck, he’s an unbelievable player, really. There’s no words that I can say that can show the emotions I’m having right now,” Edwards said. “There’s no dents in his game. When he’s on, he’s the best player out there. It’s unbelievable.”
American Fork coach Jared Ingersoll had a chance to join his brother in the state champion circle on Saturday as Jason Ingersoll’s Levi team earned the 5A state championship.
The Pioneers took their first baseball title since 1981 by beating Olympus 4-3 in a game that went eight innings. Lehi (26-4), after beating Olympus (22-10) Friday night need only its first chance to grab the 5A title the next day.
It was a pitchers duel for seven innings between the Titans’ Ashton Johnson and the Pioneers’ Maddux Madsen before both players, having reached the maximum pitch count, were lifted before the eighth.
Lehi got the winning run in the eighth inning when Zach Evans, the reliever who kept Olympus off the board in the top of the frame, singled home Wade Christensen — who had been hit by a pitch and then stole second to put himself in scoring position.
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