Pleasant Grove baseball coach Jon Hoover waited 20 years to get a team into the state finals, and when he finally cleared that hurdle, his Vikings took advantage of it.
The Vikes thumped Cyprus 15-5 Friday afternoon at Ken Price Park to capture the state 4A title. The game was called after six innings due to the 10-run rule.Coupled with PG's exciting 8-5 comeback victory over West earlier in the day, Hoover finally broke a jinx that's eliminated his teams in the semifinals seven times.
"I swear we've taken third place that many times, but until today, I've never been able to get over the hurdle," he stated during a jubilant postgame celebration. "This team has overcome so much adversity and so many injuries this year, and the kids really put it together today."
The Vikings also avenged a 7-4 loss to Cyprus earlier in the week, a game in which PG led 4-3 in the seventh.
Cyprus took the quick lead Friday, as Jayson Newsome drilled a three-run first inning homer off Cody Knuteson.
But the Vikes came right back in their half of the first, as Arik Otteson singled with one out, Damian Sapp was hit by a pitch, Brandon Huntsman walked, and Ron Branin drew a walk to score Otteson. Darrell Fowles followed with a single to center to tie the game at 3-all after one.
The Vikings got two more in the second. Greg Williams and Matt Heelis both reached on the first two of four Cyprus errors, and Williams scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Duvall. With two out, Sapp singled to left to plate Heelis for the 5-3 lead.
Cyprus got one run back in the third when Spike Nash singled, moved to third on a double by Clint Dilley, and scored on a sacrifice by Newsome, his fourth RBI of the game.
Pleasant Grove took command with five runs in the fourth, all after two men were out. Duvall singled to left, Otteson doubled him in, and Sapp clubbed a mammoth home run to left center. Chad Huntsman came in to relieve starter John Eyre and quickly walked Brandon Huntsman and Branin. Fowles doubled down the left field line to score two, and it was 10-4 after four.
The Pirates got one back in the fifth, as Nash singled and scored on a double by Dilley, but PG went up 12-5 in the bottom of the inning as Huntsman ripped a two-run double to left.
With reliever Mike Dahle shutting down Cyprus in the top of the sixth, the Vikes were ready to end the debate. Fowles led off the inning with a single, Wyatt Cloward followed with a single to center, and Fowles scored on an error to make it 13-5. After Heelis popped to short, Duvall knocked in Cloward with a sacrifice fly, Williams moved to third on a wild pitch, and with two out and a 3-1 count, Otteson drilled a single to center for the game-winner.
The Vikings finish the year 21-7, and with their first state title since 1987, the year Hoover took a sabbatical and assistant Alan Bahr guided the Vikes to the crown. Sapp was named MVP following a marvelous tournament that included two massive home runs Friday at Ken Price.
Pleasant Grove 8, West 5
In the opener, West's Rod Madsen and PG's Cody Anderson were in a classic pitching dual until the fourth. But the Panthers broke the deadlock with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
Madsen led off with a double, West's first hit. Troy Thomas followed with a two-run homer to left. Jeff Holtry walked, Chris Walker singled, and Jedd Carter belted a three-run homer to left to make it 5-0. Cody Knuteson then came on in relief, striking out the side to end the inning.
Madsen kept the Vikings silent until the sixth, when Sapp led off with a towering home run to left-center. Huntsman then drew a walk, Branin singled, and with two outs, Greg Williams laced a two-run double to cut West's lead to 5-3.
The Vikes earned their way to the final with five runs in the top of the seventh. Otteson singled to left, Sapp and Huntsman both walked, and Branin lined a single to left, tying the score at 5-all. Fowles then drilled a three-run homer to left that proved the difference.
Knuteson retired West in order in the seventh to pick up the win, moving the Vikes into the final.