SANDY — Many coaches tell their teams that in order to win the state tournament, it is going to require winning a variety of games. One game could be a blowout, one could be a tight contest, and one may be of the comeback variety.

Although the final score would not reflect it, Alta won a tight contest Wednesday afternoon over Cottonwood 9-2 in the second round of the 5A baseball playoffs.

For nearly six innings, Alta, which boasts 5A's highest scoring offense, was throttled. It was a little unexpected considering that Cottonwood was starting a freshman on the mound. But Tanner Robles is turning out to not be an ordinary freshman.

"That's a good young team," said Alta coach Barry Harrington. "Robles threw a great game. He was a poised pitcher out there."

Robles held the Hawks in check by pitching well for four and one-third innings. He gave up only four hits and two runs while striking out six. His only blemishes came on an RBI double by Brandon Relf in the first inning and a run-scoring double by Phil Peterson in the second.

It was a good thing for the Hawks that they had their ace throwing. Scott Crow dominated the Colts.

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"Scott was great out there today. He threw about 100 pitches, and considering how cold it was out there that is a ton," Harrington said.

On an unusually frigid May afternoon, Crow pitched five strong innings. He gave up only one run on four hits and four walks while striking out six. Cottonwood scored its lone run against Crow in the third inning on a Cliff Anderson double. It was a classic pitchers' dual.

If not for one defensive mistake, Cottonwood may have pulled the upset. Jared Crowler had entered in relief in the fifth inning, and had gotten out of a jam by forcing an inning-ending double-play. In the sixth inning with two men on base and two outs, he forced Peterson into what should have been an inning-ending groundout. Instead, a booted ball gave the potent lineup another out.

Pace McGriff came in to pinch hit with runners on the corners. He delivered a two-RBI single that took the emotion right out of the Colts. "That was a big hit," Harrington said. "That little redhead has come through for us a few times this year."

Alta took advantage of the momentum and added five more runs in the inning. Dane Burton singled to knock in a run, and Relf hit a bases-clearing double for three more RBIs. He finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs. If just looking at the scorebook, it was typical of Alta to have a big inning.

"This is as good a lineup as I have ever seen come through here in the 14 years I've been here," Harrington said.

Alta will continue its run toward a state title when it faces off against Region 3 champion Skyline next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lindquist field in Ogden. Cottonwood must now win every game to continue its season as it moves to the elimination side of the bracket.


E-mail: mblack@desnews.com