RIVERTON — Mitch Watrous belted a two-out RBI double to deep center to lead the Riverton Silverwolves to a tough 3-2 extra innings win over the visiting American Fork Cavemen in the first-round of the 5A state tournament on Wednesday.
In addition to Watrous' clutch hit, pitching and errors were the story of the game. Riverton's Tanner Banks mowed down eight Cavemen batters and pitched out of trouble throughout the game. In both the top of the sixth and the top of the eighth, the Cavemen were able to get a man on third, and Banks was able to get the big outs to end the innings.
"True to his character, even when he doesn't have his best stuff, he battled and got the outs when we needed them," Riverton head coach Jay Applegate said.
The Silverwolves got the scoring started with two runs in the bottom of the first. Watrous and Roger Weber hit back-to-back singles and Watrous headed home on an RBI double from Dallin Chipman. Up next, Skyler Fullmer hit a short fly ball to right field, and Weber came in to score after getting stuck in a rundown when American Fork pitcher Ben Beddes dropped the ball as he was tagging him.
In the top of the third, Banks lost the strike zone, issuing four walks. Although the Cavemen didn't get a hit in the inning, Taison Smith battled back from an 0-2 count on two failed bunt attempts to take four straight balls and walk in a run to cut the deficit to one. True to form, Banks battled back with one run in, one out and the bases loaded to get a three-pitch strikeout and a fly ball out to keep Riverton in the lead.
"I just fell out of rhythm," Banks said. "My coaches calmed me down and told me I just needed to relax."
American Fork's Kyle Hall reached on a fielding error in the top of the fifth, and the next batter, Tyler Flinders, reached on an error by Banks, who was trying to throw out Hall at second. Hall advanced to third on the error and came in to tie up the game when Smith collected his second RBI of the night by putting down a picture perfect sacrifice bunt.
The Silverwolves tallied 10 hits in the game, but their scoring stagnated after the first inning, due mainly to several base-running errors. In the bottom of the eighth, Brady Hudson led off with a nice infield single to deep short, but was thrown out at second after Banks dropped a bunt that failed to advance him. Banks was then picked off at first a few pitches later. Without delay, Dillon Draper smacked a big two-out single which extended the inning for Watrous' game-winning double.
"I was just trying to make contact," Watrous said. "Once I did, I knew it was in the gap and that Dillon was fast enough to score."
The Silverwolves will now head to Viewmont to face the Vikings at 4 p.m. Thursday. Riverton beat Viewmont 6-2 back in March during preseason play.