Nix hits walk-off home run in Orem’s 7-5 victory against Maple Mountain
Orem and Maple Mountain spent the last two days taking turns making clutch plays and hitting late-inning home runs in their remarkable 5A state tournament Super Regional series.
On Friday, senior Landon Nix was the final hero for the Tigers.
Nix clubbed a two-strike, two-out, three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh inning, a dramatic and memorable walk-off in a 7-5 victory that earned his team a 2-0 series win as well.
It was the first career home run for Nix, who celebrated with teammates then went in search of his family to share the joy.
“My parents are just there for me,” Nix said. “They support me in everything I do and I’ve been working hard. I was so happy. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. It was so sick. I finally found a moment and hit my first home run.”
Nix wasn’t the only player who contributed a late-game heroic play during the two games. Maple Mountain freshman Cy Chrisman hit a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the seventh on Thursday to send Game 1 to extra innings. The Golden Eagles scored three times in the top of the tenth to take a 5-2 lead but Orem’s Merrick Bostock smashed a two-out, three-run homer to tie the game at five. The next batter, Owen Miller, ripped a solo shot for a walk-off and a 6-5 Tiger victory.
On Friday, Orem scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-2 lead and was one strike away from the win. Maple Mountain’s Cooper Seamon connected on a long drive to left that cleared the fence and drove in three runs to give the Golden Eagles a 5-4 lead.
Cohen Strickland led off the bottom of the seventh for Orem and earned a walk against Maple Mountain reliever Cooper Rollins, who then struck out Bostock. Miller smacked a single that sent Strickland to third, but Rollins whiffed Easton Davies for the second out.
Nix was a late-game defensive substitution in right field and saved a run with a nice running catch of a Frandi Mosquea drive in the top of the seventh. Nix came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and got down two strikes to Rollins.
“So I was a bit antsy,” Nix said. “I was just nervous and then Coach down the third baseline told me to ease up and I felt just a rush of calmness. Just let it go, that’s all it was.”
Nix blasted a fastball over the left-field wall for the game-winner, raced around the bases and was swarmed by his teammates.
“I just wanted a base hit,” Nix said. “That’s all I wanted. That would at least tie it up. I thought it was gone but I wasn’t quite sure, I’m not gonna lie.”
In addition to Friday’s big game, Nix also earned the win in Thursday’s thriller in relief.
“For two games in a row to be like that, it’s unbelievable,” Orem coach Carl Hermansen said. “Landon came in and saved it yesterday, struck out two guys with the bases loaded. We put him in today. He’s a great defensive player and he swings it pretty well. We just told him to calm down and he got a pitch to hit.”
Maple Mountain, the No. 10 seed, finishes the season with a 16-10 record.
“We’ve been back and forth in the playoffs the past three years,” Hermansen said. “They knocked us out three years ago and we’ve knocked them out the past two years. It’s just a very, very good rivalry. It’s … I won’t say heated, I’ll say very intense. It’s a shame they get a 10 seed. With the RPI, there are always some head scratchers and it’s too bad because they are a really good team. JT (Jeremy Thomas) does a phenomenal job and they’re only going to get better.”
No. 7 seed Orem (18-9) has now won 16 of its past 17 games and will advance to bracket play in the 5A state tournament on Monday at BYU’s Miller Park.
“They are playing for each other which is always a key,” Hermansen said. “When you get a team that genuinely likes each other, good things will happen.”
Friday’s State Baseball Scores (Super Regional round)
No. 1 Skyridge 7, No. 16 Davis 2 (Skyridge wins series 2-0)
No. 8 Pleasant Grove 3, No. 9 Taylorsville 2 (PG wins series 2-0)
No. 15 Westlake 4, No. 2 Cyprus 3 (Westlake wins series 2-0)
No. 7 American Fork 10, No. 10 Corner Canyon 0 (AF wins series 2-0)
No. 6 Riverton 14, No. 11 Lone Peak 4 (Riverton wins series 2-0)
No. 12 Payson 16, No. 5 Viewmont 4
No. 4 Viewmont 6, No. 12 Payson 2 (Viewmont wins series 2-1)
No. 4 Lehi 10, No. 13 Cottonwood 0 (Lehi wins series 2-0)
No. 18 Uintah 3, No. 2 Timpanogos 1
No. 2 Timpanogos 14, No. 18 Uintah 0 (Timpanogos wins series 2-1)
No. 7 Orem 7, No. 10 Maple Mountain 5
No. 3 Salem Hills 9, No. 19 Spanish Fork 1 (Salem Hills wins series 2-0)