HIGHLAND — The Region 7 baseball opener between the two top ranked teams in Class 4A was as good as billed.

Round one goes to the Lone Peak Knights, who scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead and then preserved the 4-3 win over Timpanogos when rightfielder Jaron Gallagher made a game-saving diving catch for the final out.

"This was a pretty big win for us as far as confidence," Lone Peak coach Dan Schoonover said. "The team that lost this game is deflated . . . I just think it deflates you a little bit. And a win obviously gives us a little momentum, and that helps in baseball."

With the tying run on third and two outs in the seventh, the T-Wolves' Tyson Ford hit a soft liner to shallow right that looked like it was going to fall.

But Gallagher came racing in, dove and snagged the ball a few inches above the grass. Schoonover thought the ball was going to drop.

"Five or six had fallen right in front of our outfielders all game, so I thought they had another one," he said.

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Timpanogos coach Kim Nelson also thought the game was tied.

"I really thought it had a chance, but it just hung up there," Nelson said.

Ford was poised to be the hero when he launched a 1-2 pitch over the right-center field wall to lead off the sixth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie. In the same inning, Timpanogos got singles from sophomore Austin Heaps and junior Tyson Gonzales, but both runners were left stranded — which was the story of the game for the T-Wolves.

"We just left too many guys on," Nelson said of the 10 runners Timpanogos left on base.

After Ford gave the T-Wolves the late lead, Lone Peak wasted no time in knotting things back up. Benji Woahn drilled the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth over the right-field fence, making the score 3-3. Timpanogos ace Mac Nelson then walked the next batter, before being pulled for reliever Ryder Olsen. A grounder by Zeke Mendenhall advanced the go-ahead run to second. The pitch that eventually did in the T-Wolves was the wild one that allowed pinch-runner Jason Newman to advance to third with one out. Two pitches later Derek Hansen lifted a fly ball to center, which was deep enough for the winning run to score.

"We had opportunities, but we didn't play a game where I think you can say we deserved to win," coach Nelson said.

Timpanogos scored once in the first inning when Mac Nelson doubled and was knocked in by an Olsen single. Lone Peak responded with two in the bottom half. Sean Stephan, who led off with a double, scored when Timpanogos catcher Alex Wolfe threw the ball into center field on a stolen base attempt with two outs. Woahn knocked in the second run with a two-out single. The T-Wolves tied the game in the third when Olsen doubled in another run. But for the third straight inning the T-Wolves stranded runners in scoring position.

The heart of Timpanogos' order went seven for eight, with Nelson connecting for three hits and Olsen for four. Woahn, Lone Peak's ace, started and scattered 10 hits, but got the key outs when needed despite not being at his best.

"He'd be the first one to tell you he didn't have his good stuff," Schoonover said. "He couldn't throw his curve ball for a strike, but he competed for us and he got outs."

The two teams will face each other two more times in region play. Many believe they'll also meet sometime in the state playoffs.


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com