Top-ranked Pleasant Grove has a lineup with a reputation for smashing the ball all over the field.
To beat Syracuse on Thursday, the Vikings had to dirty the game up a bit.
Pleasant Grove scored four runs in the top of the sixth on two passed balls, a bunt single and a double steal to surge into the lead, finishing with a 9-5 victory in the championship bracket of the 6A baseball tournament at UCCU Ballpark.
Pleasant Grove (21-8) moves on to Friday’s championship game. The Vikings will play the winner of the Lone Peak-Syracuse elimination bracket game, which was postponed in the top of the first inning due to rain and will resume at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. The 6A championship game will follow immediately after that game.
Pleasant Grove had just one extra base hit — a double from Brock Watkins — but stole seven bases and bunted effectively to overcome a strong performance by Syracuse.
“We rallied together and that’s what we do best,” said senior outfielder Noah Taylor, who stole three bases, went 3 for 4, drove in three runs and scored twice. “We feed off each other’s energy. When we get bunts down, teams can’t stop us. No one can stop us when we start running.”
Syracuse starter Jayson Christiansen kept the Vikings off balance and led 5-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth. A 30-minute rain delay made for a long inning for both teams, but especially for the Titans. Pleasant Grove pushed across four runs on just one hit, executing a sacrifice bunt, a drag bunt and a double steal to grab the lead and momentum.
“We been talking all year with our team that sometimes we’ve got to win with small ball,” Pleasant Grove coach Darin Henry said. “That’s what is so great about this team is we can do it in so many different ways. I told these guys we were going to have our adversity in this tournament but we embrace it, we enjoy it. Our guys keep grinding and grinding. I feel like our talent will finally pop its head out and we’ll find our way.”
Dillon Trane pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win for Pleasant Grove, allowing three hits and one run.
Dylan Hawkes had an RBI triple and Logan Poe an RBI double for Syracuse (16-12), which won its first state tournament game since 2013 while making its run in this year’s state tournament.