The battle between the top two baseball teams in Class 6A was all American Fork.
The Cavemen – No. 2 in the 6A RPI this week – dominated the first meeting with No. 1 Pleasant Grove on Tuesday. Both teams came in undefeated but it was the Vikings who took the hard “L” in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd. AF totaled 12 hits and starter Dalton Smith held PG to just two singles in a 10-0, five-inning win.
“We got on a little bit of a roll there,” American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll said. “The offense did a great job. Dalton Smith on the bump, he’s an incredible leader and a senior for us. I was super impressed with his composure out there. We made some good plays behind him. Any time you play as good a team as Pleasant Grove you aren’t expecting it (a 10-run win). Our mentality is just to improve game by game.”
American Fork (10-0 Region 4, 19-0 overall) put up four runs in the third inning to break a scoreless, getting five singles including RBI hits from Kaden Carpenter, Josh Rojas and Fisher Ingersoll. The Cavemen added three more in the fourth, including a two-run homer over the left-field wall from No. 9 hitter Dax Newman.
“I just came into the batter’s box thinking ‘anything close and be aggressive,’” Newman said. “I was trying to put a good swing on it and I did.”
Newman, Spencer Clegg and Easton Whittaker all doubled in the fifth, with Whittaker’s hit driving in two runs and American Fork led 10-0.
Pleasant Grove came into the game with a team batting average of .391 but Smith completely shut down the Vikings potent attack. In five innings, Smith (8-0, 1.11 ERA) allowed just three base runners and didn’t let a runner advance past first until the bottom of the fifth. Brody Ballantine was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. With two outs, Smith got his fourth strikeout to end the game by the 10-run rule.
“He just throws strikes,” Jarod Ingersoll said. “He doesn’t beat himself, he’s quick to the plate, he holds runners well and he mixes his pitches well. He trusts his defense and gets punch outs when he needs them. I’m super impressed with ways he continues to grow as a pitcher.”
Newman had three of American Fork’s 12 hits and drove in three runs.
“Every game we just try to come out, stay with the same approach and do what we’ve been doing,
being aggressive,” Newman said. “It was fun. We were all excited for this game but we were focused also and ready to play these guys. We wanted good competition and they are a good team but we came out and played well.”
Game 2 of the three-game series will be played at American Fork on Thursday while Pleasant Grove (9-1, 19-1) will host Game 3 on Friday.