After more than three hours of wild high school baseball in Wednesday’s Last Chance Tournament at Maple Mountain, Provo found itself down to its last chance.
The Bulldogs trailed Timpanogos by a single run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning but had runners on first and second. That’s was the setting for Provo freshman Alex Martinez as he walked slowly up to the plate.
“I needed a good at-bat,” Martinez said. “I just needed to get on base and get the next guy up.”
Forget the fact that Martinez had barely any varsity experience, since most of the 2020 season was canceled due to efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The freshman handled the moment like a veteran, getting ahead in the count and then getting a pitch he really liked.
“I saw a good pitch and let it rip,” Martinez said. “The contact felt super-good. I saw the ball flying to left-center and then saw it hit the floor. I knew it would score two runs easy.”
Martinez’s smash did just that as it rolled all the way to the fence, driving in both baserunners to give Provo the dramatic 12-11 victory over Timpanogos and sparking an exuberant Bulldog celebration.
“That was one of the craziest games you’ll ever see,” Provo head coach Lance Moore said. “It was awesome. One of the things I missed was that camaraderie and the excitement. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid.”
Moore said he was optimistic when Martinez stepped up to bat.
“He got some at-bats early in the season,” Moore said. “He has a compact swing, so I knew he could hit varsity stuff. He worked it to a 2-1 count, then got a fastball in. He stayed compact and smoked it. It was an excellent piece of hitting.”
Moore said Martinez is the type of athlete who always works hard.
“He and his brother Tyler both had great at-bats today,” Moore said. “They’re always in the cage working. They embody a blue-collar culture and tenacity.”
Martinez said he just savored getting to celebrate the victory with his teammates.
“It was so much fun,” he said. “It was amazing. It felt so good.”
The walkoff ending was a fitting conclusion to a wild game that had a little of everything.
Timpanogos trailed 2-1 after three innings but put together a big inning in the fourth, tallying seven runs to seize control.
Provo answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth but the Timberwolves plated another run in the fifth to take a 9-4 advantage into the bottom of the sixth.
That was when the Bulldogs put together a big inning of their own, using some walks and Timpanogos miscues to score six runs and surge in front.
That lead, however, didn’t last long.
The Timberwolves got a key sacrifice fly by Davis Kirby to drive in the game-tying run, then went in front when Paxton Richards hit a sharp grounder to third that scored another run on the fielder’s choice.
That set the stage for Provo to rally in the bottom of the last inning as the Bulldogs had two batters hang in and get hit by pitches. Those were the two that scored when Martinez hit his walkoff double.
“We never gave up,” Martinez said. “We knew we could come back. We had one bad inning but we had good at-bats. We were confident we could rally.”
Provo stays in the championship bracket of the Last Chance Tournament and next faces Maple Mountain at Maple Mountain at 1 p.m. today.
“We’re going to have to have a lot of pitchers but we have a lot of guys who can pitch,” Moore said. “We have to throw strikes. If we do that, we’ve got a chance.”
Timpanogos dropped into the elimination bracket and played Springville later on Wednesday.